North American premiere
Selection 2020 On Demand


Directed by Michael Venus


Official selection

Berlin International Film Festival, Bucheon Fantastic Film Festival


Michael Venus


Thomas Friedrich


Max Hubacher, Sandra Hueller, Gro Swantje Kohlhof


Marius Von Felbert


Silke Olthoff


Global Screen (a brand of Telepool GmbH)

Germany 2020 102 mins OV German Subtitles : English
Genre Thriller

Tormented by vivid nightmares she believes are real, Marlene (Sandra Hüller, TONI ERDMANN) starts piecing together her oneiric visions. Assembling nightmarish sketches, maddening notes, and recollections gathered throughout the year, she makes her way to a remote hotel in the peaceful village of Stainbach. There, the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place, and she suffers a nervous breakdown. Worried about her mother’s condition, her 19-year-old daughter Mona (Gro Swantje Kohlhof, NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN) heads to the psychiatric ward to find her. Coming from the city, the small town’s atmosphere is immediately uncanny. At the hotel – around which everything seems to gravitate – the staff is friendly and helpful. But soon, a well-kept secret and an old curse are uncovered, which, if awakened, stand to make Mona and her mother’s life a never-ending nightmare…

Michael Venus’ Berlinale-selected SLEEP (SCHLAF) is a supremely confident horror debut; an arthouse haunted hotel film in the folk horror tradition, smartly using genre tropes to examine the continuing roots of totalitarianism through the prism of inherited and repressed trauma and the resulting mental illness these can cause. Layering sublime, surrealistic imagery with the all-too-real isolation of rural Germany, the film unfolds according to a beautiful internal logic; the real giving way to altered dream states, and back, enveloping the viewer in an unsettling ambiguity. A perfect encapsulation of the horror of our current waking moment, carried by riveting performances from Khlohof and Hüller – two of the most celebrated actors in contemporary German cinema. – Ariel Esteban Cayer