Sleeping Sickness

by Ulrich Köhler

Sleeping Sickness


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 or he loses 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 1969 in Marburg /Germany and
lived in Zaire (now Dem. Rep. of Congo) with his family
from 1974 to 1979. He studied Fine Arts in Quimper/
France, Philosophy in Hamburg and later on Visual
Communication at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg
(Diploma 1998), where he made his first short films.
His feature films “Bungalow” (2002) and “Windows on
Monday” (2006) were successful at numerous festivals
and won national and international awards, including the
German Critics Award for Best First Feature in 2003.

Filmography as a writer and director:

2011: Sleeping Sickness (Schlafkrankheit)
2006: Windows on Monday (Montag kommen die Fenster)
2003: Bungalow (co-writer Henrike Goetz)


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


Writer & Director: Ulrich Köhler
Cinematographer: Patrick Orth
Editors: Katharina Wartena, Eva Könnemann
Commissioning Editors: Christian Cloos (ZDF), Anne Even (ZDF/ARTE), Birgit Kämper (ARTE)
Production Manager:
Anne Lessnick
Janine Jackowski, Maren Ade, Katrin Schlösser
Art Director:
Jochen Dehn
Costume Designer:
Birgitt Kilian
Kris Portier de Bellair, Ulrike Müller
Production Designer:
Jochen Dehn
Julien Sicart
Sound Design:
Tobias Peper
Frans van Geseti
A Production of
Komplizen Fiim
in co-production with
öFilm, Why Not Productions, IDTV Film, ZDF-Das kleine Fernsehspiel
In collaboration with
Funded by
FFA (German-French Mini Treaty), BKM, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, DFFF, FFHSH, HR-Filmfund, Nederlands Fonds voor de Film, CNC and Media

Technical Data

Format: 35mm / 1:1,85 / Colour / Dolby Digital
Length: 91 min.
Original language: French, German, Dutch, Basse

Original title: Schalfkrankheit


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Sleeping Sickness
Sleeping Sickness

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