Six months after the unexpected death of 28-year-old Tim Bergling, the superstar DJ known the world over as Avicii, Levan Tsikurishvili’s documentary “Avicii: True Stories” will launch a limited theatrical run in order to qualify for Academy Awards consideration. The film will be shown in New York City from Dec. 21 to 27 and in Los Angeles from Dec. 14 to 20.
Tsikurishvili followed Bergling for over four years and received virtually unlimited access to the artist as his star ascended. But with a growing following came a grueling schedule for the Swedish DJ, which also resulted in a series of health problems. In 2016, Avicii, at just 26, announced he was retiring from live performances despite becoming one of the world’s highest-grossing DJs. The movie features appearances from artists including Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Nile Rodgers, and David Guetta. Bergling died of an apparent suicide near Muscat, Oman in April.
“When you are a talent, you are part of a big machine and that means a lot of problems,” Tsikurishvili tells Variety. “Everything is about [becoming] more successful, breaking more records, doing more and more and more. … People just work their asses off, and that’s not healthy. Someone has to say stop [because] maybe, somewhere in there, you’re forgetting yourself. I mean, excuse my French, but that’s f—ed up.”
Back when the documentary originally debuted in October 2017, Tsikurishvili described the central message as: “That life can look exciting and glamorous on Instagram and social media, but you don’t really have any idea what’s going on behind that.”
Still mourning the loss of his friend Tim, he’s even more adamant about exposing the shortcomings of the industry — and the travesty that can lay beneath the surface. “Suddenly you can be alone in this huge industry even though you’re very successful,” says Tsikurishvili, who recently signed with Paradigm. “There’s no system that takes care of talent. There has to be a space for them, because those guys are the ones making us happy at the end of the day with their creations.”
The fellow Swede collected 300 terabytes’ worth of footage of Bergling and spent the last three years of musician’s life by his side almost every day. “I feel the responsibility to be the messenger, and honor my friend and his legacy,” Tsikurishvili says.
Having recently re-watched “True Stories” for the first time since Bergling’s death, Tsikurishvili was overcome with emotions. “It was happiness, sadness, anger, everything you can think of,” he says. “But at the same time, it felt really good to see him again.”
“Avicii: True Stories” will be shown in Los Angeles’ Leammle Music Hall Theatre from Dec. 14 to 20 and New York’s Cinema Village from Dec. 21 to 27.