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Homage paid to filmmaker Daniel Schmid

Schmid made a dozen films during his cinema career

(Keystone)

Switzerland has paid tribute to film and opera director Daniel Schmid, who died on Saturday.

One of his most notable films "Beresina or The Last Days of Switzerland" was successfully shown in 1999 at the Cannes and Locarno festivals. In the same year, Locarno also awarded him a Leopard of Honour for his achievements.

Both the Locarno festival, currently taking place in the southern Swiss town, and German-language television changed their programming on Sunday to pay homage to Schmid, who was 64.

Nicolas Bideau, head of the film section at the Federal Culture Office described Schmid as something of a rough diamond.

"Daniel Schmid always said what he thought. Sometimes it could be coarse but it was also poetical... He also wanted his death to be celebrated."

"Daniel Schmid was one of the greatest Swiss directors," commented Ivo Kummer, director of the Solothurn Film Days, speaking from Locarno.

"He belonged to a tradition of the cinema d'auteur [where the director usually writes the script], but not only that. He was also a very great artist. He also staged extraordinary operas... For me an era has come to an end."

The filmmaker, who had been ill for some time, had to abandon work recently on a new film, "Portovero", shortly after shooting began.

Fassbinder

Born into a family of hoteliers in 1941 in the eastern resort of Flims, Schmid studied filmmaking in Berlin from 1966 until 1969 and later worked with Germany's Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

He appeared in front of the camera in a number of films, including alongside Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz in "Der Amerikanische Freund" (The American Friend).

Schmid also directed documentaries, the most notable, "Il Bacio di Tosca" (Tosca's Kiss), about ageing opera singers who live together in a retirement home for musicians and who remember their lives and careers.

Away from the screen, Schmid directed a number of operas at the Grand Theatre in Geneva and at Zurich's Opera House.

As a tribute to Schmid, the Locarno festival organisers screened Il Bacio di Tosca on Sunday evening, while Swiss television showed his film Beresina.

swissinfo with agencies

Films of Daniel Schmid

1970: Thut alles im Finstern (Do everything in the dark)
1972: Heute Nacht oder Nie (Tonight or Never)
1974: La Paloma
1976: Schatten der Engel (Shadow of Angels)
1977: Violanta
1981: Notre-Dame de la Croisette
1982: Hécate
1983: Imitation of Life
1984: Il Bacio di Tosca (Tosca's Kiss)
1987 Jenatsch
1991: Les Amateurs
1992: Hors Saison/Zwischensaison (Off Season)
1995: The Written Face
1999: Beresina

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