Berlinale: Programme

Film File


Der Atem

The Breath

Eva-Maria Lemke (Protagonist), Lama Gelek Ngawang (Protagonist), Ilker Abay (Protagonist), Christina Vantzou (Music), Cornelius Plache (Cinematography), Uli M Schueppel (Director, Producer)

Moderation: Ralf Schenk

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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.

Uli M Schueppel

Germany 2019

German, English, French, Russian

95’ · Black/White

World premiere


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


Written and directed by
Uli M Schueppel
Director of Photography
Cornelius Plache
Ernst Carias
Christina Vantzou
Sound Design
Marcel Fink
Martin Fruehmorgen
Assistant Director
Patricia Morosan
Production Manager
Jana Cisar
Uli M Schueppel
Doris Hepp
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

Produced by

Schueppel Films