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The Trouble With Being Born

Sandra Wollner‘s debut about ten year old android “Elli“ who lives together with her “dad,“ a well-off middle-aged engineer, is a very uncomfortable film that stays with you.


In Sandra Wollner‘s debut feature THE TROUBLE WITH BEING BORN there‘s an android, but the film is only marginally interested in artificial intelligence. There‘s also a pedophile android owner, but the abuse is more of an example for violence and ownership relations. Android “Elli“ lives with her “dad“, a wealthy middle-aged engineer, and looks about 10 years old. Over the course of the film it becomes clear that the artificial Elli is a replacement of a human Elli. “Dad‘s“ desires are perverse, but in post-Freudian Austrian films desires are always perverse. Let‘s pretend it‘s normal when “dad“ takes out Elli‘s tongue and genitals and cleans them in the sink.

Wollner‘s film primarily deals with the conditions of the birth of an “I.“ The things resembling a consciousness for Elli are actually just the linguistic elements that have been programmed into her. She keeps repeating the same phrases: “we were awake all night,“ “you smelled of suntan oil and cigarettes,“ and so on. Scraps of conversation of his memory that are meant to become a kind of “I-simulation.“ But the memories seem to also include unconscious mental ramifications. Elli ran away and the new, not fully born replacement Elli also disappears and has to take on a new situation with a new persona which goes even worse because the old programs keep breaking fresh grounds, adding new and different trauma. The primary question that Sandra Wollner asks – besides the consequences after abuse and the fear, grief, and neurosis of the adults – is how someone (or something) can construct a kind of identity from encounters with others, from these networks of desire. It is a very uncomfortable film that stays with you.


Translation: Elinor Lewy


Deutschland/Österreich 2020, 94 min
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction
Director: Sandra Wollner
Author: Sandra Wollner, Roderick Warich
DOP: Timm Kröger
Montage: Hannes Bruun
Music: David Schweighart
Distributor: eksystent distribution
Cast: Lena Watson, Ingrid Burkhard, Dominik Warta, Jana McKinnon
FSK: 16
Release: 01.07.2021




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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