“My songs didn’t make me famous. The fatwa did.” When God Sleeps unfolds against the backdrop of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks in the Bataclan concert venue and European right-wing backlash against Middle-Eastern refugees. It deftly weaves the journey of exiled Iranian musician Shahin Najafi with historical context and intimate biographical detail, rooting the narrative in Najafi’s immediate and unavoidable reality, living under a fatwa issued against him by hardline Shiite clerics. As Najafi juggles a personal life and budding romance in Cologne, far from loved ones, with a professional career whose high profile may cost him his life, he spars with bandmates who are ambivalent about the peril his status places on their lives, and battles German police who refuse to see the death threat on his head as a legitimate danger. With camerawork that underlines the intimate aspect of this film, we bear witness to the life of an outspoken artist defying powerful men intent on silencing him.
—Cara Cusumano, Director of Programming for the Tribeca Film Festival
WHEN GOD SLEEPS is a documentary by Till Schauder, presented by Partner Pictures in conjunction with ITVS, Catapult Film Fund, Motto Pictures, Fork Films, and WDR.
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TILL SCHAUDER’s feature debut SANTA SMOKES which he wrote, co-directed and starred in, won several awards, among them Best Director at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Studio Hamburg Newcomer Award. In 2012, Till completed his critically acclaimed first documentary THE IRAN JOB, which was released worldwide, mentioned as an Oscar contender and shortlisted for a German Academy Award in 2014. His latest documentary WHEN GOD SLEEPS premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2017 and is currently playing at film festivals around the world. WHEN GOD SLEEPS won the “Cinema for Peace Award” for Most Valuable Documentary of the Year during this year’s Berlinale, and the “Golden Heynal Award” in the International DocFilmMusic Competition at this year’s Krakow Film Festival. WHEN GOD SLEEPS opened theatrically in Germany and Japan in October. The U.S. theatrical release is scheduled for early 2018, followed by a nationwide broadcast on PBS/Independent Lens and a North American online release on Amazon. Till also recently completed WARRIORS OF FAITH, a feature documentary about Iraqi refugees in Germany combating ISIS through performance arts for which he just won a German Emmy. The film also won the “ARD Top of the Docs” Award and was a nominee for the Prix Europa. Till has a side career in acting. He appeared with Kate Winslet in the HBO Series “Mildred Pierce” and in Martin Scorsese’s HBO Series “Vinyl”. His production company, which he runs with his producing partner and wife Sara Nodjoumi, is based in Brooklyn.
SARA NODJOUMI is an independent film producer and film festival programmer. She and Till Schauder most recently collaborated on WHEN GOD SLEEPS, which is co-produced by ITVS, executive produced by Motto Pictures, Catapult Film Fund, and Fork Films, and supported by numerous foundations including the Sundance Institute, Jerome Foundation, and NYSCA. The film premiered in competition at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. It later went on to win the Golden Heynal award for Best Music Documentary at the Krakow Film Festival, as well as the Most Valuable Film of the Year award at Cinema for Peace in Berlin. Nodjoumi and Schauder are currently working on the feature documentary REGGAE BOYZ, which is in post-production. From 2004-2009, Nodjoumi worked at the Tribeca Film Festival as an Associate Programmer and is currently the Artistic Director of the New York Sephardic Film Festival. She also produced the feature documentary THE IRAN JOB, which was released theatrically and on Netflix worldwide. In Germany, the film was shortlisted for a German Academy Award. For THE IRAN JOB, Nodjoumi managed two of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time. In 2016, she was invited to attend the Sundance Creative Producer’s Summit and in 2017 she was an IFP Cannes Producer’s Network Fellow.
14 December 2017 | German Academy Award
We’re thrilled to share that WHEN GOD SLEEPS has just been shortlisted for a German Academy Award!
14 November 2017 | WHEN GOD SLEEPS wins Jury Competition Award!
Exciting news! WGS just won the Jury Competition Award at the Sound Unseen Film Festival! Read more about it on our blog.
9 November 2017 | IDFA Tickets Available Now
We’re screening at IDFA in Amsterdam starting November 16, with a special screening on November 24 that will be followed by a live performance by Shahin Najafi!
29 October 2017 | Sound Unseen Film Festival
Minneapolis friends, we’re screening at the Sound Unseen “films-on-music” festival on November 9th! Tickets available now.
27 October 2017 | Denver Film Festival
We’ll be at the Denver Film Festival in Denver, Colorado on November 9. Tickets available now!
WHEN GOD SLEEPS is available for community screenings starting this fall. Email us if you’re interested in hosting a screening and invite your friends, coworkers, family, and classmates. Here are some of our upcoming/past screenings:
Sound Unseen Film Festival — Minneapolis, Minnesota
IDFA 2017 — Amsterdam, The Netherlands
November 16, 22, 23, 24
German Theatrical Release
October 1 – November 14
Japan for UNHCR Refugee Film Festival
October 6 – November 11
Denver Film Festival
In-Edit Film Festival — Barcelona, Spain
October 28/November 4
[framed] Documentary Film Series — Putney, Vermont
Calgary International Film Festival
September 29/October 1
South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers
September 18 – September 28
Filmfestival Kitzbühel — Kitzbühel, Austria
August 25 & 26, 2017
DocLands Documentary Film Festival — Marin County, California
May 13, 2017
Tribeca Film Festival — NYC, New York
April 20, 2017 – April 30, 2017
Contact us with questions regarding WHEN GOD SLEEPS or Partner Pictures