SIFF Face the Music 2018 Preview: Nico, 1988

Matthew Howland

Nico, 1988
(Italy | 2017 | 93 minutes | d: Susanna Nicchiarelli

Festival Screenings:
SATURDAY, MAY 26 9:00 PM | SIFF Cinema Uptown
SUNDAY, JUNE 3 8:30 PM | SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Few musicians remain as deeply mysterious as German chanteuse Nico, who has previously been the subject of various books, films, and plays. Nico, 1988, focuses on the final years of the musician's life, before her death in 1988. Following her fast rise as a model and muse during the mid-1950s and early 1960s, Nico became acquainted with Rolling Stone Brian Jones, with whom she recorded her first single. Within the span of several years, Nico starred in several Andy Warhol films, recorded and performed extensively with The Velvet Underground, and recorded the 1967 classic Chelsea Girls LP, which many contend to be her best work. Her solo career continued for a number of years and featured close collaborations with John Cale, Brian Eno, and French director Philippe Garrel. 1968's The Marble Index and 1970's Desertshore are undeniable highlights of her solo career, exploring atonality and avant-garde musical traditions that lie dormant in Chelsea Girls

Nico struggled greatly in the 1970s and 80s with heroin addiction, which deeply impacted her creative life and ability to function as a touring musician. Even when cited frequently as an influence upon a wealth of punk and post-punk performers, including John Lydon, Patti Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, and Peter Murphy, Nico's personal struggle overwhelmed her ability to create, rendering her uninterested in music for a period preceding her death. Nico, 1988 focuses primarily on this period, as she toured small concert venues throughout Europe, and attempted to reforge a relationship with her teenage son, allegedly fathered by French actor Alain Delon. The film is told as a travelogue, giving space for Nico's music and personal life to come to the forefront. 

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Susanna Nicchiarelli, Nico, 1988 has previously screened at several film festivals, and was the recipient of the Orizzonti Best Film Award at the 2017 Venice International Film Festival. 

KEXP is a proud co-sponsor of the "Face the Music" series at the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival, running May 17 - June 10 in various theatres across the area. Follow along with all our coverage throughout the festival here.

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