‘When God Sleeps’
The winner of the Golden Heynal award at the 57th Krakow Film Festival
krakow film festival (KKF)
“My songs didn’t make me famous. The fatwa did.”
About the life of Iranian musician Shahin Najafi, against whom a fatwa has been issued, for insulting Islam.
The best music documentary film and hence the winner of the Golden Heynal award, by the decisio of the Jury under the chairmanship of Gitta Gsell (Switzerland), is the American-German documentary film ‘When God Sleeps’; about the life of Iranian musician Shahin Najafi, against whom a fatwa has been issued, for insulting Islam.
WHEN GOD SLEEPS had its European premiere at the 57th Krakow Film Festival, as part of the festival’s DocFilmMusic International Competition. The film will screen alongside this year’s other prominent music documentaries from around the world, among others, at Tribeca Film Festival.
The film is a portrait of the restless artist, who has to live in hiding and to frequently change his appearance, but nevertheless, he does not stop playing music. ‘This moving story, together with the lyrics of the songs and the tension and rhythm of the film, allowed to create a masterful music documentary film, which absorbs the viewer from the very beginning to the end’; said Gita Gsell, the chairperson of the jury, from the scene.
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.
This rap-punk-rock documentary tells the story of Iranian musician Shahin Najafi who is forced into hiding after hardline clerics issue a fatwa for his death, incensed by a rap song that focuses on the oppression of women and human rights abuses. Shahin's frantic escape leads to an impossible romance when he falls in love with the granddaughter of the first Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their backgrounds make their relationship a modern-day Romeo and Juliet.
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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Schauder got his start in Germany where he wrote and directed the award winning feature films STRONG SHIT and CITY BOMBER. His U.S. debut, SANTA SMOKES won several international awards, among them Best Director at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Studio Hamburg Newcomer Award. In 2012, Schauder completed his first documentary, the critically acclaimed THE IRAN JOB, which was released theatrically in several countries, shortlisted for a German Oscar, and is now available on Netflix. In 2014 he was awarded the prestigious Gerd-Ruge-Stipendium by Medienstiftung NRW, Germany’s largest federal film fund. Schauder received his MA at the University of Television and Film, Munich. He teaches film classes at NYU and Vermont College of Fine Arts where he is a founding faculty of the Film Masters Program.
Nodjoumi is an independent film producer and film festival programmer. She most recently 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. She co-produced and co-directed I CALL MYSELF PERSIAN: IRANIANS IN AMERICA, which aired on PBS and premiered at the MoMA Documentary Fortnight. Nodjoumi joined director Till Schauder, as an Associate Producer on his feature films SANTA SMOKES and DUKE’S HOUSE. Their collaboration continues with the feature documentary THE REGGAE BOYZ, which is currently in post-production, and WHEN GOD SLEEPS, co-produced by ITVS and supported by numerous foundations including the Sundance Institute, Catapult Film Fund, Fork Film, the Jerome Foundation, and NYSCA. 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. In 2016, she was invited to attend the Sundance Creative Producer’s Summit.
Official Sites: Official Site
Country: USA | Germany
Language: German | Persian
Release Date: 20 April 2017 (USA)
Production Co: Partner Pictures
Runtime: 88 min
Color: Color (HD)