Schmid was born in 1941 in Flims, Switzerland and grew up in the Hotel Schweizerhof, which has been owned by his family for generations, according to his website. He studied history and comparative literature at the Freie Universit‹t Berlin from 1962-1967 and filmmaking at Berlin's German Film and Television Academy from 1967-1969.
He began directing films in 1970. Schmid's many credits include the 1984 documentary Il bacio di Tosca ("Tosca's Kiss") about aging opera singers who live together in a special retirement home for musicians and reminisce about their lives and careers. He also appeared in front of the camera in several movies, including works by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Patrice Ch_reau and Hans-J‹rgen Syberberg and, as the character Samuel Ingraham, in the 1977 Wim Wenders film The American Friend.
He was also an opera director and staged several productions at the Grand Th_ê¢tre in Geneva and Zurich's Opernhaus, among them Bellini'sI puritani and Beatrice di Tenda, Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix, Verdi's Il trovatore and Berg's Lulu.
In 1999, Schmid received a lifetime achievement award at the Locarno International Film Festival. Organizers for this year's festival, which is currently under way, planned to show Tosca's Kiss in the grand square of this southern Swiss town last Sunday evening (August 6) as a tribute to Schmid, according to the Associated Press.