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“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.

Visit us on FacebookTwitter, and our official Tribeca Film Festival page.

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Writer, Director
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.

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6 February 2019 | German TV Premiere on WDR
WHEN GOD SLEEPS has its broadcast TV premiere on PBS series Independent Lens TONIGHT, April 2, at 10 PM EST!

2 April 2018 | TONIGHT: Television Premiere on PBS
WHEN GOD SLEEPS has its broadcast TV premiere on PBS series Independent Lens TONIGHT, April 2, at 10 PM EST!

21 March 2018 | Russian Premiere at DOKer 2018
WHEN GOD SLEEPS is heading to Moscow for its Russian premiere at DOKer 2018.

19 March 2018 | Special NYC Screening and Discussion
Heads up, New York! WGS will be screened on March 22 at NYU School of Law. Producer Sara Nodjoumi and several other prominent Iranian/Iranian-American activists will take part in an accompanying discussion.

10 March 2018 | One World Romania
Join us in Bucharest for two screenings at One World Romania International Human Rights and Documentary Festival, March 17 and 18.

9 March 2018 | Norwegian Premiere
Join us at the HUMAN International Documentary Film Festival in Oslo, March 10 and 12.


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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:




DOKer (Moscow International Documentary Film Festival) — Moscow, Russia

US Television Premiere on PBS series Independent Lens
April 2

Special NYC Screening & Discussion — New York City, New York
March 22

One World Romania — Bucharest, Romania
March 17 and 18, 2018

One World Human Rights Film Festival — Prague, Czech Republic
March 10, 2018

HUMAN International Documentary Film Festival — Oslo, Norway
March 10 and 12, 2018

!f Istanbul Independent Film Festival — Istanbul, Turkey
February 21, 22, and 24, 2018

LOLA at Berlinale — Berlin, Germany
February 17 and 22, 2018

Victoria Film Festival — Victoria, Canada
February 11, 2018

SEEYOUSOUND International Music Film Festival — Turin, Italy
January 28 and February 3, 2018

Houston Iranian Film Festival — Houston, Texas
February 3, 2018

Göteborg Film Festival — Gothenburg, Sweden
January 26, 2018

The Island House Film Festival — Nassau, The Bahamas
January 25, 2018

Sound Unseen Film Festival — Minneapolis, Minnesota
November 9, 2017

IDFA 2017 — Amsterdam, The Netherlands
November 16, 22, 23, 24, 2017

German Theatrical Release
October 1 – November 14, 2017

Japan for UNHCR Refugee Film Festival
October 6 – November 11, 2017

Denver Film Festival
November 9, 2017

In-Edit Film Festival — Barcelona, Spain
October 28 and November 4, 2017

[framed] Documentary Film Series — Putney, Vermont
October 26, 2017

Calgary International Film Festival
September 29 and October 1, 2017

South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers
September 18 – September 28, 2017

Filmfestival Kitzbühel — Kitzbühel, Austria
August 25 and 26, 2017

Guth Gafa Int’l Documentary Film Festival — Kells, Co Meath, Ireland
August 5, 2017

Dwa Brzegi — Kazimierz Dolny, Poland
July 29, 2017

Filmfest München — Munich, Germany
June 23 and June 25, 2017

Krakow Film Festival — Krakow, Poland
May 30 and June 2, 2017

DocLands Documentary Film Festival — Marin County, California
May 13, 2017

Tribeca Film Festival — New York City, New York
April 20, 2017 – April 30, 2017

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Contact us with questions regarding WHEN GOD SLEEPS or Partner Pictures