A film by Ulrich Köhler. "Sleeping Sickness" celebrated its film premiere at The 61st International Film Festival in Berlin in competition and won the Silver Bear for Best Director

Year  2011

Length: 91 min

Format:   1:1.85

Country of production  GER, FRA

Intro | Synopsis

"No; I am Kim, this is the great world and I am only Kim. Who is Kim?" He considered his own identity, a thing he had never done before, till his head swam. He was one insignifant person in all this roaring whirl of India, going southward to he knew not what fate.

Kim, R. Kipling

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 Velten has to give up his life in Africa or he loses the woman 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.


Produced by Komplizen Film in co-produktion with ÖFILM (Germany), Why Not Productions (France), IDTV Film (Netherlands), ZDF/Das Kleine Fernsehspiel in collaboration with Arte, sponsored by FFA, BKM, DFFF, Medienboard, Filmförderung Hamburg-Schleswig Holstein, Hessen Film Fund, The Netherlands Film Fund, CNC and Media.


Ebbo Velten

Pierre Bokma

Alex Nzila

Jean-Christophe Folly

Vera Velten

Jenny Schily

Gaspard Signac

Hippolyte Girardot

Helen Velten

Maria Elise Miller

Elia Todorov

Sava Lolov


Written and directed by

Ulrich Köhler

Director of Photography

Patrick Orth


Katharina Wartena

Eva Könnemann

Production Design

Jochen Dehn

Costume Design

Birgitt Kilian


Kris Portier de Bellair

Ulrike Müller

Original Sound

Julien Sicart

Sound Design

Tobias Peper

Commissioning Editors 

Christian Cloos (ZDF/Das kleine Fernsehspiel)

Anne Even (ZDF/ARTE)

Birgit Kämper (ARTE)


Frans van Gestel (IDTV Film)


Janine Jackowski, Maren Ade (Komplizen Film)

Katrin Schlösser (öFilm)


Berlinale, 61. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

Silver Bear for Best Directing

Festival des deutschen Films

Film art award 2011


Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin


Istanbul International Film Festival

Buenos Aires International Film Festival (BAFICI)

Copenhagen Film Festival - CPH:PIX

Festival des deutschen Films Madrid

Sydney International Film Festival

Festival des deutschen Films


Midnight Sun Film Festival

New Zealand International Film Festival

Durban International Film Festival

Melbourne International Film Festival

Wellington International Film Festival

Transatlantyk International Film and Music Festival

Espoo Ciné International Film Festival

Vancouver International Film Festival

New York Film Festival

Busan International Film Festival

Films from the South Festival

BFI London Film Festival

Kinofest Lünen

Festival International du Film La Roche-sur-Yon

Mumbai International Film Festival

Sao Paulo International Film Festival

Tokyo International Film Festival

Human Right Film Festival Costa Rica

Chennai International Film Festival

Panazorean Film Festival

San Francisco International Film Festival

Shanghai International Film Festival



World Distribution