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PRODUCTION Germany

Pelican Blood currently shooting in Bulgaria

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- Six years after shaking Cannes to its core with Nothing Bad Can Happen, Katrin Gebbe explores sacrifice from a different angle in a film starring Nina Hoss

Pelican Blood currently shooting in Bulgaria
On the set of Pelican Blood, in Bulgaria (l-r): producer Verena Gräfe-Höft, actress Nina Hoss, director Katrin Gebbe, actors Katerina Lipovska and Adelia Ocleppo, DoP Moritz Schultheiß, actor Dimitar Banenkin and co-producer Mila Voinikova (© SWR/JunaFilm/Simon Versano)

Those who were at the world-premiere screening of Nothing Bad Can Happen [+see also:
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, in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival back in 2013, cannot have forgotten the tense and deeply divided atmosphere in the room after the film. Katrin Gebbe's first feature was indeed a shockingly radical depiction of the incomprehensible martyrdom of a religious fanatic, and a very promising debut, on account of its being so uncompromising. Six years later, she approaches the motifs of ordeal and sacrifice once again, but from a different angle, in Pelican Blood, which took part in the TorinoFilmLab in 2017. The title of the movie refers to the Christian image of the mother pelican feeding her dead offspring with her own blood to bring them back to life, “which became a metaphor for unconditional love and faith”, as Gebbe herself puts it. Principal photography started a month ago in Bulgaria and is due to continue until mid-October. 

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Pelican Blood, scripted by the director herself, stars the magnificent Nina Hoss, who has become something of an undisputed master when it comes to ambivalent female roles. The movie depicts the sacrificial journey of a mother confronted with the most terrifying dilemma. When horse trainer Wiebke adopts five-year-old Raya, from Bulgaria, she discovers that the girl suffers from an attachment disorder that makes her incapable of establishing emotional connections or feeling any empathy, therefore making her a danger to herself and everyone around her, including Wiebke's older adopted daughter, Nicolina. As Raya becomes more and more aggressive, the mother has to decide if she can take it upon herself to keep the child in spite of everything and much against everyone's advice. In her TFL intention note, Gebbe pointed out that the questions she wishes to raise with this film are: “How do we treat members of our society who do not behave according to our moral and behavioural standards? What are we willing to sacrifice in order to reach our ideals and dreams? We long for transcendence and a free will – but what is real? And should we care at all?”

For this sophomore film, the director is once again partnering up with producer Verena Gräfe-Höft, of Junafilm, working in co-production with Mila Voinikova of Miramar Film (Bulgaria) and SWR/ARTEPelican Blood is being supported by the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), the German Ministry of Culture and Media (BKM), the Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein regional fund and EurimagesDCM will release it in Germany next year. The film's international sales are handled by Films Boutique.

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