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Pelican Blood – Katrin Gebbe

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #72. Pelican Blood – Katrin Gebbe

Junafilm Simon Versano

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #72. Pelican Blood – Katrin Gebbe

Pelican Blood (Pelikanblut)

Personal sacrifice is again the central theme in the sophomore film from Germany’s Katrin Gebbe, who nabs Nina Hoss as the lead in Pelican Blood. Joining Gebbe again is producer Verena Graft-Hoft of Junafilm, working in conjunction with Bulgaria’s Mila Voinikova of Miramar Film and SWR/ARTE. Joining Hoss in the cast of this dark family drama are Murathan Muslu, Sophie Pfenningstorf, Justine Hirschfeld, Yana Marinova, Dimitar Banenkin, Sebastian Rudolph, Katerina Lipovska and Adelia-Constance Giovanni Ocleppo. Lensing the film is DP Moritz Schultheiß (Romeos, 2011). Gebbe’s incredibly divisive debut, Nothing Bad Can Happen (read review), which concerned martyrdom and religious fanaticism in modern day Hamburg, premiered in Un Certain Regard at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Gist: From her own script, Gebbe’s film finds horse trainer Wiebke (Hoss), who adopts five-year-old Raya from Bulgaria. However, it’s soon apparent Raya suffers from an attachment disorder which doesn’t allow her to form emotional connections with anyone. As the child’s aggressive behavior begins to threaten those around her, including Wiebke’s older biological daughter, she has to decide is she can take it upon herself to properly raise the child. The title is derived from the Christian imagery of a mother pelican feeding her dead offspring her own blood to bring them back to life.

Release Date/Prediction: Gebbe filmed Pelican Blood in Bulgaria from September to mid-October 2018. The post-production period may be too close for Gebbe to bow out of Berlin, where she could be a contender for the competition. If not in Berlin, we could expect to see Gebbe return to Cannes, perhaps in Un Certain Regard.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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