The Trouble With Being Born

Somewhere in Central Europe, perhaps in the vicinity of Vienna, in the near future. Ten-year-old Elli is an android, as we soon learn. She takes shape through programming and this turns her into a fantasy figure. Firstly for a man she calls “Daddy” with whom she lies by the pool and for whom she dresses up in the house at the edge of the forest. Elli is the vessel for his memories, which mean nothing to her, but everything to him. One day he runs after a strange echo and gets lost in the darkness while Elli, who follows him, is picked up by strangers. A new identity awaits her, a new ghostly existence – as a blank screen onto which others can project their loss of the paradise that is childhood. Austria’s new voice for the nexus between desire and the abyss, fear and mystery, feeling and emptiness is Sandra Wollner. As in Das unmögliche Bild, in her provocative second feature film she develops the plot from a complex basic constellation (not the other way around) and reconstructs families that never existed. And so the machine becomes a mirror of human emotion, and the film a captivating ladder into virtual and psychological realities.
by Sandra Wollner
with Lena Watson, Dominik Warta, Ingrid Burkhard, Jana McKinnon
Austria / Germany 2020 German 94’ Colour World premiere


  • Lena Watson (Elli/Emil, Android)
  • Dominik Warta (Georg)
  • Ingrid Burkhard (Ms. Schikowa)
  • Jana McKinnon (Elli)


Director Sandra Wollner
Screenplay Sandra Wollner, Roderick Warich
Cinematography Timm Kröger
Editing Hannes Bruun
Music David Schweighart, Peter Kutin
Sound Design Peter Kutin
Sound Johannes Schmelzer-Ziringer
Production Design Pia Jaros
Costumes Andrea Jirez
Make-Up Gaby Grünwald
Assistant Director Astrid Schäfer
Producers Lixi Frank, David Bohun
Commissioning Editor Burkhard Althoff
Co-Producers Andi G Hess, Astrid Schäfer, Viktoria Stolpe, Timm Kröger
Co-Production The Barricades Berlin
ZDF / Das Kleine Fernsehspiel Mainz
Filmakademie Baden-Württemburg Ludwigsburg

Produced by

Panama Film

Sandra Wollner

Born in the Steiermark region of Austria in 1983. Her debut feature film, Das unmögliche Bild, won the German Film Critics Association Award in 2019. The Trouble With Being Born is her graduation film from the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg.


2013 Uns geht es gut; short film 2014 Louis & Luk; short film 2015 Viktor; short film 2016 Das unmögliche Bild 2020 The Trouble With Being Born

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020