By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 20, 2012 at 1:33PM
One of the fall Oscar contenders that is still sight unseen--and not booked into any major film festivals--is Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." Well, the DreamWorks/Fox/Participant movie starring Daniel Day Lewis as the 16th president has finally landed a festival berth the night before it opens November 9 at the height of awards season fervor in L.A.: The AFI Fest will show the film as its fest gala closer.
The movie, adapted by Tony Kushner from Doris Kearns Goodwin's bestseller "Team of Rivals," co-stars Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Jackie Earle Haley, John Hawkes, Hal Holbrook, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader and Jared Harris. This is the 26th Spielberg film scored by John Williams. DreamWorks is not taking chances on marketing and promoting this historic drama, which is an old-fashioned Hollywood biopic geared for adults (and Academy voters) that needs all the buzz and push it can get.
The film concentrates on the tumultuous Civil War period in the last months before the president's assassination, when he pushed landmark legislation to made real the rhetoric that "all men are created equal."
Spielberg received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1995. Five of his movies rate among the greatest films of all time on AFI’s 100 Years...100 Movies list: "Schindler's List," "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," "Jaws," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Saving Private Ryan." Last year he completed a one-hour special at the AFI Conservatory with Williams that explored their four-decade relationship. Both Spielberg and producer Kathleen Kennedy serve on the American Film Institute’s Board of Trustees. Spielberg has been an AFI Trustee since 1986, Kennedy since 1994.
For the fourth consecutive year, AFI FEST will continue to screen its program to audiences for free.