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The Chinese Lives of Uli Sigg
Directed by Michael Schindhelm
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Art world sensation Ai Weiwei credits him with launching his international career. Renowned pianist Lang Lang describes him as a mentor to Chinese artists. Curator Victoria Lu believes that his taste and influence as a collector has been felt around the world.

But when Swiss businessman Uli Sigg first went to China, art was far from his mind. The year was 1979, and Sigg—working for the Schindler escalator and elevator company—was hoping to set up one of the first joint ventures between the Chinese government, seeking international investment in the post-Mao era, and a Western company. At the time, even the fanciest hotels had rats, boardrooms were so poorly heated you could see your breath, and the government still regulated hairstyles (five different kinds of perm allowed).

film stillSigg championed the artists he admired, working tirelessly for their international recognition and to preserve their artwork as a record of China's tumultuous and historic changes. Eventually, Sigg became the Swiss ambassador to China and a consultant on major Chinese art projects, including the construction of the Bird's Nest stadium for the Olympic Games.

THE CHINESE LIVES OF ULI SIGG, directed by art historian and scholar Michael Schindhelm and produced by Marcel Hoehn, is a history of China's recent opening to the West, and of the West's embrace of Chinese contemporary art, through the eyes of Sigg and the artists he championed. Artists including Ai Weiwei, Cao Chong'en, Gang Lijun, Feng Mengbo, Shao Fan, Wang Guangyi, Zeng Fanzhi and Cao Fei (co-director of San Yuan Li) are interviewed along with curators, diplomats, architects and business colleagues in this colorful documentary survey of contemporary Chinese art.

"I always tell him: it doesn't matter how famous I become, he is the maker."Ai Weiwei

"The documentary is a good starting point to familiarize oneself with contemporary Chinese art and the man who helped expose it to the world."Hyperallergic

"Schindhelm does well in relating a secret history of China via its art scene by interviewing several generations of artists."The Boston Globe

"Required viewing for contemporary-art fans. Here's a definitive portrait not just of the soft-spoken collector who brought the likes of Ai Weiwei and Cao Fei to the world's attention but of the birthing pains of post-Mao China."The Georgia Straight

"A surprising film! [Uses] the impenetrable Uli Sigg to show us the hidden side of a complex and mysterious country... An intimate yet delicately icy portrait of a character who nurtures mystery like a defense weapon."Cineuropa

"Provides an overview of Sigg's extraordinary life, combining archival footage with extended interviews of Sigg, as well as recollections by some of the most notable artists whose works Sigg collected. The film also offers an incisive portrait of a farsighted, sophisticated man whose comments on meetings with governmental officials will fascinate those interested in the recent transformation of China into a global power. Recommended!"—Video Librarian

2016 Locarno International Film Festival
2016 Vancouver International Film Festival
2016 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
2016 Milano Design Film Festival
2016 Rio Film Festival
2016 Beirut Art Film Festival

93 minutes / Color
English; Mandarin / English subtitles
Release: 2017
Copyright: 2016

For individual consumers (home video)

This DVD is sold for private, home use only.

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For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Art, Art History, Biographies, China, Contemporary Art, Cultural Studies, Switzerland

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