Sleeping Sickness

Directed by Ulrich Köhler On July 19 at 20:00

Germany/France/Netherlands - 2011 - 91 min - 35mm - French with English subtitles
With Pierre Bokma (Ebbo Velten), Jean-Christophe Folly (Alex Nzila), Jenny Schily (Vera Velten)


Ebbo and Vera Velten have been living in Africa for a long time. Ebbo is managing a sleeping sickness programme. 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.

festivals & awards


Silver Bear (Best Director) Berlin 2011
Filmkunstpreis: German Film Festival, Ludwigshafen 2011

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)

Director's biography


Born in 1969, Ulrich K;hler spent as a child of members the German peace corps a number of sojourns in various countries abroad. He studied Fine Arts in France and Germany. His first feature “Bungalow”, received the German Film Critics’ Award and several other prizes at festivals at home and abroad. Alongside filmmakers like Christoph Hochhäusler, Benjamin Heisenberg, Valeska Griesebach and Köhler’s companion in life Maren Ade, he is considered part of the so-called “Berlin School” of filmmaking.