DOK Leipzig Film Festival



What does it mean to be a prisoner of your own body and invisible? “Sandgirl” takes us into the unique world of experiences and life of Veronika Raila, a young autistic girl, hypersensitive and seriously disabled from birth. Raila knows what it feels like not to be seen as a person. As a child she was diagnosed with an IQ of 0. Only her parents refused to believe this. Today Raila publishes prose and poems, studies literature and theology. Together with director Mark Michel she reviews her own life in this film. The combination of her writings and thoughts with delicately filmed everyday observation, poetic nature shots and artist Anne Löper’s fleeting but powerful sand animations coalesce into an essay about freedom and perception.

“Sandgirl”, however, is more than the sequel to the award winning short film “Veronika” which Michel made about Raila in 2011. This time Veronika is not just a protagonist but a creative partner whose trenchant texts carry the film and who frequently makes detailed suggestions about how to illustrate her interior world. In a profound but sometimes also eminently funny dialogue with Mark Michel she finally becomes the tour guide of her own universe of sand, music and words.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann

Nominated for ver.di Prize for Solidarity, Humanity and Fairness, Goethe-Institut Documentary Film Prize, DEFA Sponsoring Prize
Original Title: Sandmädchen
Country: Germany
Year: 2017
Language: German
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 85 min.
Format: DCP
Color: Colour
Director: Mark Michel
Producer: Marcie K. Jost, Peter Zorn, Mark Michel
Cinematographer: Ines Thomsen
Editor: Andreas Baltschun, Mark Michel, Ed van Megen
Animation: Anne Löper
Sound: Christian Schunke
Script: Mark Michel, Veronika Raila

The annotations to the films in the Official Selection were written by the members of the selection committee and guest authors. All quotes from DOK Leipzig 2017 catalogue articles must be identified as such and cite the author's name. All articles where no author’s name is given are production notes.