2019 The Impossible Picture
Much of Sandra Wollner’s second feature is seen through the eyes of Elli, a pre-teen android girl. It takes place in a fragment of time in which she “belongs” to two different people. We know nothing of her history beforehand. She is programmed to meet the emotional needs of her owners, which in both cases are related to a cherished person lost in the past. Her memories are those of the person she represents and she supposedly has none which she has forged herself. We first see her living in a beautiful forest home with a much older man she calls “papa”, with whom she shares his leisure days and his bed. But one night, for reasons unexplained that give rise to much conjecture, she follows a mysterious voice into the forest.
The Trouble with Being Born is an aesthetically beautiful, formalist film that raises troubling issues about identity, the nature of a “self” and meaning of memory. It’s also about the growing porosity between our ourselves and the technology we use, including its humanisation. In a film where the adults are nothing but unsavoury, our sympathies settle upon a thoroughly engaging, but anthropomorphic machine, oblivious to her or his or its fate. She’s a programme, but we don’t always believe that.
Language: German, subtitled in French
Director: Sandra Wollner
Actors: Lena Watson, Dominik Warta, Ingrid Burkhard