Der Atem

The Breath
The night has its own songs. These are songs about love and hardship, about hope and bitterness, about fulfilment and disappointment; experiences caught between day and dream. Unforgotten moments of pausing, of taking a breath, of infinity solidified into a moment.
In Der Atem (The Breath) Uli M Schueppel collects existential experiences of Berlin at night. People in the darkness of the city tell their personal stories of holding their breath. Theirs are stories of worries, pain, fear and happiness. The breath of these individuals appears to merge; their portrait fragments come together to form a composition, a symphony of life that leaves room for one’s own thoughts, associations and visions. Filmed on analogue black-and-white celluloid, this film deliberately and radically plays with the harsh contrasts of the night. And, like some of its narratives, the film’s images lose themselves in a coarse-grained and reflective blur, creating contrasting surfaces for the words or enclosing them in a magical cosmos. Der Atem is the third part of Uli M Schueppel’s ‘Chants’ trilogy about space, time and the body. A cinematic view of the world, shot between 1998 and 2019.
by Uli M Schueppel
with Eva-Maria Lemke, Alexander Jacoby, Ilker Abay, Sarah Klute, Sophia Chapman, Gelek Ngawang, Bienvenue Mbarga, Uwe Schmidt, Olga Dyer, Daniel Zschigner, u.v.a.
Germany 2019 German, English, French, Russian 95’ Black/White


  • Eva-Maria Lemke
  • Alexander Jacoby
  • Ilker Abay
  • Sarah Klute
  • Sophia Chapman
  • Gelek Ngawang
  • Bienvenue Mbarga
  • Uwe Schmidt
  • Olga Dyer
  • Daniel Zschigner
  • u.v.a.


Written and Directed by Uli M Schueppel
Cinematography Cornelius Plache
Editing Ernst Carias
Music Christina Vantzou
Sound Design Marcel Fink
Sound Martin Fruehmorgen
Assistant Director Patricia Morosan
Production Manager Jana Cisar
Producer Uli M Schueppel
Co-Producer Doris Hepp
Co-Production ZDF/Arte Mainz

Uli M Schueppel

Having first studied German, Romance languages and linguistics in Heidelberg, he went on to study directing at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB). He has worked as a writer, director, producer and DOP on 14 feature-lengths films, moving between the genres of fiction, essay, music and documentary. He is also a media artist whose work has been exhibited at home and abroad. He is a guest lecturer at the DFFB and the Netherlands Film Academy in Amsterdam.


1988 Nihil, oder alle Zeit der Welt 1990 The Road to God Knows Where 1992 Vaterland (Fatherland) 1994 Jahre der Kälte (Frozen Stories) 1996 Sid & Nancy/Ex & Pop 1997 Der Platz (The Place) 2000 Planet Alex 2004 The Song 2005 Santos – Heldentaten, die keiner braucht (Heroic Deeds No One Needs) 2007 Berlinsong; Panorama 2008 Der Tag (The Day) 2009 Elektrokohle (Von Wegen) (Off Ways); Panorama 2010 Tranzania.Living.Room. 2012 Brötzmann – Da gehört die Welt mal mir (That's When the World is Mine); Panorama

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019