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Tucci warns Trump could have 'devastating' impact on arts
US actor and director Stanley Tucci arrives for the screening of the film "Final Portrait" out of competition at the 67th Berlinale film festival in Berlin on February 11, 2017. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP.

by Deborah Cole

BERLIN (AFP).- Hollywood actor-director Stanley Tucci said Donald Trump's administration could have a "devastating" impact on the arts and "civilised society", as he unveiled his new biopic at the Berlin film festival Saturday.

Tucci ("The Devil Wears Prada") presented "Final Portrait", a depiction of Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti's twilight months in Paris, when he painted American writer James Lord in 1964.

The movie stars Australian Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush as the temperamental sculptor and painter, swearing up a storm in French, English and Italian, and Armie Hammer ("The Social Network") as his muse of the moment Lord.

Asked ahead of the film's red-carpet premiere about the state of the arts at home under Trump, Tucci painted a bleak picture.

"I can only imagine with this administration that if they have their way they will eviscerate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) which I think is devastating on so many levels," he said, referring to one of the main US government sponsors of the creative industries.

"As a civilised society, the arts are not an adjunct to society. They should be an integral part of society and unfortunately a lot of America and a lot of politicians don't see it that way."

Tucci, whose father was an art teacher, admitted that it was not a new development that conservatives saw such funding, a fraction of the federal budget, as a "waste".

"They also don't see it as an important part of education, which is unfortunate," he said.

"This administration might not even see education as important."

Media reports last month said that the Trump administration was considering eliminating the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"Final Portrait", Tucci's fifth outing as a director since 1996's "Big Night", premiered out of competition at the Berlin film festival.

It shows Giacometti at the height of his powers but wracked by self-doubt and swaying between his devoted wife (Sylvie Testud) and a flighty prostitute and model (Clemence Poesy from the "Harry Potter" series).

He asks Lord if he can paint his portrait but a process that he promises will take "two or three days" stretches across weeks in which the American becomes caught up in the whirlwind of the artist's life.

Lord eventually wrote a memoir about the episode, which is the basis of the film. One of the portraits completed during their time together sold at auction for $20.9 million in 2015.

Tucci said he was drawn to a story detailing the creative process at such close proximity, and watching genius unfold.

"Giacometti's work itself I find incredibly moving. It's at once kind of ancient and modern," he said.

"There's nothing quite like it, I don't think there's ever been an artist that comes close to touching that. There's such a truthfulness to it."

© Agence France-Presse

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