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Scene from SLEEPING SICKNESS (photo © Komplizen Film/Patrick Orth)

Ebbo and Vera Velten have been living in Africa for a long time. Ebbo is managing a sleeping sickness program. His work is fulfilling. In contrast, Vera feels increasingly uncomfortable with her life in the expat community of Yaoundé and the separation from her daughter Helen, 14, who is attending boarding school in Germany.

Ebbo has to give up his life in Africa if he doesn’t want to lose the women he loves. But he has become a stranger to Europe. His fear of returning increases from day to day.

Years later. Alex Nzila, a young French doctor of Congolese origin, travels to Cameroon to evaluate a development project. He hasn’t been to Africa for a long time. But instead of finding new prospects, he encounters a destructive, lost man: like a phantom, Ebbo slips away from his evaluator.

Ulrich Köhler was born in 1969. He studied Fine Arts in France, Philosophy in Hamburg, and Visual Communication at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. His feature films BUNGALOW and WINDOWS ON MONDAY premiered in the Berlinale Forum and have screened at many festivals worldwide, winning numerous awards. SLEEPING SICKNESS premiered in Competition at the Berlinale in 2011 and won the Silver Bear for Best Directing. IN MY ROOM (2018) premiered in Cannes' Un Certain Regard. A VOLUNTARY YEAR (2019, in co-direction with Henner Winckler) is his latest feature.
Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2011
Director Ulrich Köhler
Screenplay Ulrich Köhler
Cinematography Patrick Orth
Katharina Wartena, Eva Könnemann
Jochen Dehn
Cast Jenny Schily, Hippolyte Girardot, Sava Lolov, Maria Elise Miller, Francis Noukiatchom, Ali Mvondo Roland, Isacar Yinkou, Jean-Christophe Folly, Pierre Bokma
Producers Janine Jackowski, Maren Ade, Katrin Schlösser
Co-Producer Frans van Gestel
Production Company Komplizen Film, in co-production with öFilm/Berlin, Why Not Productions/Paris, IDTV Film/Amsterdam, ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel, in cooperation with ARTE
Length 91 min
Format RED, color, 1:1.85
Original Version
Subtitled Versions English, German, French
Sound Technology Dolby Digital
Festivals Berlin 2011 (In Competition), BAFICI 2011, Istanbul 2011, CPH PIX 2011, Sydney 2011, Melbourne 2011, New York 2011, London 2011, Tokyo 2011, Busan 2011, Sao Paulo 2011, Vienna 2011 (International Competition), San Francisco 2012, Shanghai 2012, Festival do Rio 2013
Awards Silver Bear (Best Director) Berlin 2011
With backing from German Federal Film Board, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, BKM, German Federal Film Fund, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, The Netherlands Film Fund, HR-Filmfund, CNC, MEDIA
German Distributor Farbfilm Verleih

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