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German director, actor and artist Christoph Schlingensief dies of cancer at age 49

BERLIN (AP) — A spokesman for a cultural festival says German director and screenwriter Christoph Schlingensief, who was considered one of the most important figures in the country's contemporary theater, has died.

Ruhrtriennale festival spokesman Oliver Golloch said the 49-year-old director died Saturday. He did not elaborate.

Schlingensief, who was also a renowned artist and actor, had suffered from lung cancer for more than two years.

He directed numerous movies, plays and operas, including at the renowned annual Richard Wagner festival in Bayreuth, Germany, and in Manaus, Brazil.

Schlingensief's plays, mostly staged in Germany, Switzerland and Austria often proved controversial as they came with strong political messages.

Schlingensief is survived by his wife, Aino.