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‘Nico, 1988,’ Biopic of Velvet Underground Singer, to Open Venice Horizons Section

Variety logo Variety 7/19/2017 Nick Vivarelli
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ROME – Italian director Susanna Nicchiarelli’s biopic “Nico, 1988,” about the late German chanteuse who was among Andy Warhol’s muses and sang with the Velvet Underground, has been set as the opening film of the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons section dedicated to cutting-edge fare.

The hotly anticipated film will screen on August 30 in the Lido’s Sala Darsena.

Danish actress, singer and songwriter Trine Dyrholm, who won the 2016 Berlin Silver Bear for her role in Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Commune,” plays the title role in this biopic of sorts, which focuses on the years 1987 and 1988, the last two years of Nico’s life.

In the film Dyrholm brings “the artist-icon Nico back to life” playing the part “with her own voice and transforming herself physically,” according to a Venice statement.

“This is the story of Nico after Nico,” Nicchiarelli said in the statement.

“People usually talk about her only in relation to the men she was with when she was young: Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Alain Delon, Iggy Pop.”

“I read once in an interview that ‘at age 34 Nico was finished.’ That’s not true,” she added. After her experience with the Velvet Underground, Nico became a great musician.” she noted.

“I wanted to tell the story of her journey from a different point of view, focussing on the loss of consensus and the change in her image, both of which gave her back her freedom.”

Nicchiarelli is known on the festival circuit for her standout debut, “Cosmonauta,” which played in Venice in 2009.

Set between Paris, Prague, Nuremberg, Manchester, the Polish country side and the Roman seaside, the biopic in road movie form starts in 1987 with Nico, 48, strung out on heroin but going on tour in Europe as a soloist with a new manager and getting off drugs as the tour progresses. She is with her son Ari, who she claimed was conceived with Alain Delon, though Delon denied paternity. Nico died in 1988 while on vacation with Ari on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza.

Nicchiarelli’s screenplay draws on interviews with Ari and with Alan Wise, Nico’s then-manager.

“Nico, 1988” is produced by Marta Donzelli and Gregorio Paonessa’s Rome-based Vivo Film (“Sworn Virgin”). France’s Celluloid Dreams has taken international sales.

Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing” will open the festival in competition Aug. 30. The full lineup is expected to be announced next week.

The 74th Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 9.

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