Sleeping Sickness


This haunting drama sees Africa through the eyes of a white expat doctor addicted to the place, and a black French doctor newly arrived to the continent.

Director: Ulrich Köhler
Year: 2011
Country: Germany
Running time: 91 mins
Censor Rating: M - offensive language, sexual references
Genres: Drama

Screenplay: Ulrich Köhler
Producers: Janine Jackowski, Maren Ade, Katrin Schlösser
Photography: Patrick Orth
Editors: Katharina Wartena, Eva Könnemann
Production designer: Jochen Dehn
Costume designer: Birgit Kilian

In French, German and Dutch, with English subtitles 

With: Pierre Bokma (Ebbo Velten), Jean-Christophe Folly (Alex Nzila), Jenny Schily (Vera Velten), Hippolyte Girardot (Gaspard Signac), Maria Elise Miller (Helen Velten), Sava Lolov (Elia Todorov), Francis Noukiatchom (Monese), Ali Mvondo Roland (Ruhemba), Isacar Yinkou (Joseph)

Festivals: Berlin 2011

Best Director, Berlin Film Festival 2011

Sleeping Sickness is a marvel, springing off Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with its perceptive slowburn of a story about a German doctor (the splendid Pierre Bokma) stuck in Cameroon for reasons he can’t wholly explain. It’s structurally bold, making an unannounced forward leap of three years in the middle, and switching focus to the Marlow role of a young, black Parisian colleague (Jean-Christophe Folly, funny and bewildered), who’s posted to check on him… I think it’s the best thing here [in Berlin], both for confidently diagnosing the rotten state of international development in Africa, and giving us rich characters who retain a bit of mystery.” — Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph

“Ulrich Köhler’s striking film, which won Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival, roams through the incongruous terrain of contemporary Africa like a restless insomniac with eyes wide open.” — Clare Stewart, Sydney Film Festival

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