The Trouble With Being Born (Sandra Wollner, 2020)

Among the prizewinners in the inaugural Encounters section at the Berlinale were the latest film from Cristi Puiu, Malmkrog; an eight-hour seasonal portrait of a Japanese farmer, Works and Days; and Sandra Wollner’s The Trouble With Being Born, which ably holds its own. In Wollner’s second feature, a lifelike android (“Ellie”) lives with a middle-aged man in an isolated house, and as the deeply disturbing nature of their relationship emerges, the film pivots unpredictably into the world of a lonely elderly woman. Wollner’s hypnotically shot film escapes the usual beats of robot parables through an unnervingly muzzy sense of point-of-view and memory, and a delicate control of tone, with the creeping sense of technology as perpetuating trauma. Several days before her film’s Special Jury award win, I sat down with the Austrian-born Wollner, who…

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