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Swiss filmmaker and critic Ulrike Koch dies aged 73 

A film director standing in front of an advertising poster at night.
Koch at the Turin Festival of Cinema in 2004. Keystone

The Swiss filmmaker and film critic Ulrike Koch has died at the age of 73. Koch was an expert on China and was known for her successful 1997 documentary film The Salt Men of Tibet, among other works. 

Koch died March 30 in the Zurich region, following a serious illness, a nephew of the artist told the Keystone-SDA news agency on Friday. 

On a list compiled by the Federal Office of Culture, containing over 53,000 entries, The Salt Men of Tibet ranks 92nd among the 500 most successful Swiss films between 1976 and 2023. The film was shown at various international festivals. In the documentary, Koch accompanied nomads in Tibet for three months and documented their ritual journey to the salt lakes in the Tibetan plateaus. 

For the film, Koch worked with Swiss cameraman Pio Corradi, who died in 2019. Koch and Corradi also collaborated on the documentaries Ässhäk Stories from the Sahara and Regilaul  Songs from the Air, she as director and he as cinematographer. Koch also served as casting director for the film The Last Emperor by Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci. 

Koch was born in Germany in 1950, and studied sinology, Japanese studies, ethnology and philosophy in Zurich before continuing her studies in China. In addition to her work as a filmmaker, she wrote film reviews for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Weltwoche, among others. She also gave lectures on China, Tibet and Buddhism. She lived in Zollikon, near Zurich. 

Adapted from German by DeepL/kc

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