The Los Angeles-based AFI FEST, which kicked off last Thursday, November 7, 2013, continues until next Thursday. On Monday, November 11, the highlight of AFI FEST 2013 is Alexander Payne’s Nebraska (7:00 p.m. at TCL Chinese Theatre), likely to earn a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for veteran Bruce Dern, who earlier this year took home the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival. (Photo: Bruce Dern, Will Forte in Nebraska.)
Set in Kentucky (kidding), Nebraska accompanies an elderly man (Dern) and his son (Will Forte) as they travel from Billings, Montana, to Lincoln, Nebraska, so he can collect sweepstakes prize money he believes he has won. In sum, Nebraska is what’s called a Road Movie, in which the Road is a metaphor for Life.
Shades of brothers Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise getting to know one another in Barry Levinson’s Rain Man, or pre-op male-to-female transgender dad/mom Felicity Huffman getting to know his/her gay sex worker son Kevin Zegers in Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica, or old hag Fernanda Montenegro getting to discover her Good Self after traveling throughout the Brazilian Northeast with "son figure" Vinícius de Oliveira in Walter Salles’ Central Station. Or Jack Nicholson on his way to meeting his estranged daughter Hope Davis in Alexander Payne’s own About Schmidt, released 11 years ago. Hoffman, Huffman, Montenegro, and Nicholson were all shortlisted for the Academy Awards; of the four, Hoffman was the only one who eventually took home an Oscar statuette.
Bruce Dern movies
The 2013 AFI FEST Nebraska screening will also feature a tribute to Bruce Dern, 77, whose film career began with a small role in Elia Kazan’s Wild River, supporting Montgomery Clift, Lee Remick, and Jo Van Fleet back in 1960.
Among Dern’s more than 80 film credits, mostly in supporting roles, not infrequently in villainous ones, are Tom Gries’ Western Will Penny (1967), with Charlton Heston; Jack Clayton’s The Great Gatsby (1974), with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow; Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot (1976), with William Devane and Karen Black; John Frankenheimer’s thriller Black Sunday (1977), with Robert Shaw and Marthe Keller; and Hal Ashby’s Vietnam War era drama Coming Home (1978), with Jane Fonda and Jon Voight.
Also: That Championship Season (1982), with Stacy Keach (who is also featured in Nebraska) and Robert Mitchum; Jan de Bont’s horror thriller The Haunting (1999), with Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones; Mary Stuart Masterson’s family drama The Cake Eaters (2007), with Elizabeth Ashley and Kristen Stewart; and Farhad Mann’s immigration drama Fighting for Freedom (2013).
According to the IMDb, Bruce Dern has two other projects in the works: Matt Shakman’s thriller Cut Bank, starring Liam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer; and, "rumored," Mark David’s The Gift Bank. Dern received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Coming Home.
From 1960-1969, Bruce Dern was married to three-time Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Diane Ladd (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Wild at Heart, Rambling Rose). Their daughter is Best Actress Oscar nominee Laura Dern (Rambling Rose).
For more information on the Nebraska screening and Bruce Dern tribute, check out the AFI FEST 2013 website.
Will Forte, Bruce Dern Nebraska photo: AFI FEST 2013.