German director Christoph Schlingensief dies at age 49

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Christoph Schlingensief in 2009
Image: Tsui.

German director Christoph Schlingensief has died at the age of 49. His death was announced by Oliver Golloch, a spokesman for the Ruhrtriennale festival. Schlingensief had been suffering from lung cancer but no official cause of death was given by the spokesman.

The film and theatre director worked on several films, plays, and operas throughout his controversial career. Schlingensief directed films such as "100 Years of Adolf Hitler" and "The German Chainsaw Massacre". He was arrested in 1997 for his exhibition of work called "Kill Helmut Kohl", aimed at the then Chancellor.

Besides plays shown in Germany, Schlingensief also worked in Austria and Switzerland. He was the director of the Richard Wagner festival in both Bayreuth, Germany and Brazil.

During his time working in Bayreuth he said "Bayreuth will give me cancer." Coincidently, four years later Schlingensief was diagnosed with lung cancer even though he was a non-smoker.

Despite the cancer he continued to work on plays and films often watching them from a hospital bed. He married costume designer Anio Laberenz and founded an opera project in the African country of Burkina Faso with funding from the German government, all while battling the disease.

Bernd Neumann, Germany's state commissioner for culture, paid tribute to Schlingensief. He said Schlingensief "had had an immense influence on German-language film and theater". Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit said on Saturday that "a major talent in theater has left the stage."

Schlingensief is survived by his wife, Anio. No funeral plans have been released yet.