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Pelican Blood

A psychological thriller, drama, and radical motherhood portrait. Wiebke lives with her 9 year old adopted daughter Nikolina on an idyllic horse ranch and another child is joining the fold, but 5 year old Raya shows violent traits.


Katrin Gebbe likes goings to places that are uncomfortable. In her first film NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN, a young punk who falls under the spell of a radical Christian cult, the “Jesus Freaks,” at first and then falls into the hands of sadists and doesn’t defend himself against their tortures. In her new, long-awaited PELICAN BLOOD, it is Nina Hoss as Wiebke Landau, an all too willing mother, who shifts the boundaries of what is imaginable and socially acceptable. The horse trainer lives with her 9 year old adopted daughter Nicolina on a sprawling farm and earns her money by training police horses. 5 year old Raya from Bulgaria is meant to join the family and complete it, and Nicolina is also looking forward to having a little sister. The first signs that something isn’t right with the child comes after another family visits, when a boy comes back distraught after playing. It gradually becomes clear that Raya is violent and is torturing other children when the adults aren’t looking. Nicoline begins to fear her new sister. Wiebke, on the other hand, becomes even more determined about healing Raya’s trauma, which pushes Nicolina further to the side. PELICAN BLOOD is situated in the disturbing border between horror and social drama – it’s too focused on effect to come off like a “true story” but too naturalistic for the horrors to be enjoyable – and becomes more and more interesting when the narrative shifts from being about the “evil child” to focusing on the “obsessive mother.” The more extreme Wiebke’s attempts to get through the Raya are, and the further she strays from conventional medicine, the more she shuts herself off as well. Whether her path is closer to madness or unconditional love is something PELICAN BLOOD doesn not presume to judge.


Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Pelikanblut – Aus Liebe zu meiner Tochter
Deutschland/Bulgarien 2019, 121 min
Language: German
Genre: Drama
Director: Katrin Gebbe
Author: Katrin Gebbe
DOP: Moritz Schultheiß
Montage: Heike Gnida
Distributor: DCM Film
Cast: Nina Hoss, Katerina Lipovska, Yana Marinova, Murathan Muslu, Samia Muriel Chancrin
FSK: 16
Release: 24.09.2020


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