Dir: Jochen Hick. Germany. 2000. 108 mins.
Prod co: Galeria Alaska. Int'l sales: Media Luna. Prod: Hick. Scr: Hick. DoP: Thomas M Harting, Michael Maley. Ed: Helga Scharf. Mus: James Hardway. Main cast: Tom Wlaschiha, Irit Levi, Jim Thalman, Richard Conti.
A cross between William Friedkin's 1980 Cruising and Michael Crichton's 1978 Coma, No-One Sleeps marks a big advance for German-born US-based director Jochen Hick. This noir thriller was a resounding hit at its world premiere in Berlin's Panorama section.
Set in San Francisco on the eve of the premiere of a production of Puccini opera Turandot, the film details the arrival of Stefan, a gay medical student from Berlin, played by Dresden stage actor Tom Wlaschiha. Stefan is in San Francisco attending a medical congress but is privately researching a theory that the HIV virus was concocted in secret human experiments conducted in US prisons in the 1970's. This thesis was spread by state agents of the former East Germany. But a serial killer is currently stalking HIV positive long-term survivors and Stefan's chief informant is murdered in an illegal sex club.
Good use of atmospheric and mostly authentic San Francisco locations and the credible playing of an Anglo-German cast makes this a gripping, if somewhat far-fetched thriller. Shooting in English should ensure that the film breaks out from the festival and gay circuit, and may have some impact with curious mainstream audiences. The interweaving of Puccini extracts not only adds musical colour, but cleverly comments on the fatal twists and turns of the story.