(If we’re lucky) We spend a significant proportion of our lives asleep. To function properly, it is estimated that an adult requires between seven to nine hours of sleep per night. However, for many of us this is more of a dream than an achievable reality. Especially given our increasingly sedentary lifestyles which revolve more and more around screens. Conditions such as insomnia, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome are on the rise. This struggle is much harder when you’re working shift patterns. As a flight attendant does in Sleep (Schlaf).
Despite being pilled-up to the hilt, Marlene (Sandra Hüllers) suffers from vivid nightmares. They seem so real and to try and understand them she is forever machining notes and sketches. Whilst on a trip this troubled sleep deteriorates and she falls into a stupor, ending up with her being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Desperate to help, her daughter Mona (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) rushes to the rural village of Stainbach and checks into a nearby hotel, which seems to be the cause of her mother’s breakdown.
Sleep is a complex beast which delves into folk horror and the demons of Germany’s past to create a starkly original art-house film. Michael Venus takes the audience to uncanny valley and into an existential nightmare. At times, it’s not easy to follow and it will require all your concentration to piece all the elements together. Sleep confronts nationalistic trauma through sensory confusion, in a world where real life and dreams collide.
Sleep is screening at Fantasia Festival.