Experimental Documentary by Alex Gerbaulet

D 2018 | 17 Min. | DCP | 5.1 | German with English subtitles 

World Premiere: Berlinale Forum Expanded 2018

Co-Directors: Mirko Winkel, Tim Schramm
Director of Photography: Jenny Lou Ziegel
Sound Recordist: Tom Schön
Editor: Philip Scheffner
Narrators: Sibylle Dordel, Alex Gerbaulet, Susanne Sachsse

Produced by Caroline Kirberg for pong film

Research funded by Stader Stiftung für Kultur und Geschichte

Production funded by nordmedia, BKM German Federal Ministry for Culture and Media, Landschaftsverband Stade


Two newspaper articles, ten years apart, two different women, the same wording. In 2001 Göttinger Zeitung wrote that Margit (69) had lived a secluded life as an inconspicuous woman. In 2011 Hamburger Abendblatt stated that Irina (65) had lived in seclusion, a non-descript woman. Up to the moment of their appearance between these newspaper lines, both women were invisible, forcefully concealed by their roles as wives and homemakers. Only for a brief moment did they claim visibility. Through acts of violence. THE SLEEPER revolves around the time before these acts took place.

The short film reconstructs and imagines the stories of these two women who were extrinsically determined throughout their lives, struggling to express themselves in vain until the only way for them to end the spiral of every-day violence was to resort to violence themselves.

The cinematic narrative, too, oscillates between documentation and fiction. An apartment with a humming fridge, a pot steaming on the stove, a table set for a meal, a running TV, serves as its key element. These every-day scenes, translated into animated still lives in the film, suggest that something is about to happen or just took place. The character of the homemaker seems omnipresent though she never appears on the scene, just as the actual protagonists Margit and Irina remain invisible.

This intimate play, which reminds of a visitation, is contrasted by tranquil exterior shots of urban landscapes and houses. Day in and day out domestic dramas take place behind these facades, never making themselves known to the outside.

photos: Jenny Lou Ziegel © pong film 2018