Exclusive Interview with Levan Tsikurishvili - “AVICII: TRUE STORIES” Film Director

Long time Avicii’s collaborator, friend and filmmaker Levan Tsikurishvili is releasing a new powerful documentary AVICII: TRUE STORIES”, The Untold Story Behind The Artist.

The theatrical release will be December 14th in Los Angeles and December 21st in New York, with hopes for an Academy Awards nomination.

I sat with the Swedish director for an exclusive interview after a private screening in Los Angeles.

“We worked together for four years.  I think we were like longer than that, but he was just on and off, like one show here and there.  I remember the first tour I did with him was in Australia 2012, I believe.  We meet for the first time actually I was making music so the first time I saw him in person was at a festival that I was playing, and he was playing on as well.  And that was kind of like the first time I met him in person and then we met again at a dinner … I was a filmmaker at that time already.  In part, I was doing the music as well and I wanted to, you know can I get into this DJ world as well, but then I decided to quit with the music and only focus on filmmaking.  That was the year we started to work with each other,” Levan told me about his relationship with AVICII.

“I mean we were living together in the same house.  Very close,” He said.

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The film reveals the unvarnished truth behind the success of producer, songwriter and artist Avicii (A.K.A. Tim Bergling) winner of 2014 Billboard Award “Wake Me Up” in the Top Dance/Electronic Song category.

One of the world’s highest grossing live music artists getting paid $250,00 per show, whose seemingly sudden decision in 2016 to quit doing live shows came as a complete chock to his fans and the industry.

The film traces the artist/DJ’s life from his beginnings in Sweden, all the way to the joy of his success, from his chart-topping global radio hits and subsequent struggles with his physical and mental health. He was hospitalized for 11 days in 2012 with acute pancreatitis, a condition associated with excessive drinking. In 2014, he was hospitalized in Miami due to a blocked gall bladder which had to be removed along with his appendix.

Tsikurishvili followed Bergling for over four years, and captured fly-on-the-wall footage of his experiences and thinking.

Featuring appearances by Madonna, Chris Martin who said, “You are so talented man”, Nile RodgersDavid Guetta, Wyclef Jean who compared Avicii to Bach, Avicii’s former manager, Ash Pournouri and one of Avicii’s best friend’s Tiesto. 

The Film is a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame from the artist's point of view as much as it is a film for Avicii’s die-hard fans.

Levan said: “I mean as documentary film director you have the redline and you are trying to follow that redline in the editing process as much as possible, and it is always hard to “killing your dolly” as we call it in a documentary language which basically means that you have to sometimes cut out your like fabric pieces from the story because it does not fit.  You have to cut it out,” Levan told me about the story he wants to convey.

He continues: “The story I wanted to tell is in the doc I believe and the message that the documentary has is another side of the industry which maybe people doesn’t like to talk about and you know because you as a talent you are expected to be strong and a role model and you are expected to be the happy person for your fans and for the industry, and I think it is very important to at the same time keep yourself like in your mind to who you are and I think my documentary will show both sides of what it takes to be the talent.”

 “Yeah, we had been talking, you know, I used to talk with the characters rather than to ask them questions, because I believe that it is easier to get like the side of story that is really happening at the time,” He said about the footage in the film.

Avicii died on April 20, 2018 of an apparent suicide in Muscat, Oman, but Levan chose to not show his death in the film, he told: “We did the documentary before he passed away. There is a sign at the end of the documentary that says the year (2016).”

Levan’s last words and hope for this documentary are:

“What I want to say with the documentary is that hopefully, I want people to see the doc is that they can learn something. Especially young people that are very interested to get into the music industry or to become anything else when you are a talent it takes lots of energy to be the talent.  It could be very exciting but it could also be very difficult and I think that society today is telling you and me that to become somewhat successful it is very good which is the fact but at the same time it can also be very difficult.  Yeah, that’s hopefully where I want to understand and learn and feel that life can be difficult even though you are very successful as a professional.”

Spoiler Alert:

The film ends beautifully with Avicii sitting alone on a chair on a deserted beach playing the guitar, then it’s written – “Avicii is working on his record, he will be releasing his album soon.”

Watch the trailer:

 Selma Fonseca and Levan Tsikurishvili

Selma Fonseca and Levan Tsikurishvili