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Cannes Preview: Alexander Payne's 'Nebraska,' in Black-and-White (and Color?)

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio | Thompson on Hollywood May 7, 2013 at 3:18PM

The first official image from "Nebraska," Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" follow-up starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte. The film will compete for the Palme d'Or at Cannes later this month.

"Nebraska," Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" follow-up starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte, is heading into competition for the Palme d'Or at Cannes later this month. Payne took "About Schmidt" to Cannes in competition in 2002.

Payne directed a script he's been sitting on for years by Bob Nelson. "It's a father/son road trip from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska that gets waylaid at a crappy town in central Nebraska where the father (Bruce Dern) grew up, and where he has scores to settle," Payne said in our  interview.

The washed-up, drunken dad believes he's won one of those Publisher's Clearing House million-dollar sweepstakes, forcing his distant son (Forte) to come along for some bonding and inevitable mischief-making. (See the sneak preview of "Nebraska" in USA Today.)

Judging from the first official still (above), the film will, indeed, screen in glorious black-and-white. According to Payne, who still spends time in Omaha, the film was shot in color in 2011 at the behest of Paramount. The studio was initially leery of shooting the film in B&W --  "The Artist" would not have been such a success" without its Oscar pedigree -- so the film was transposed into that format. So it remains to be seen how the film will go out in various venues. In our TOH! interview, Payne said, "It'll be black and white for theatrical, DVD and streaming. If they need a color version for their TV output deals, they will have it."

Paramount has slated "Nebraska" for an awards-ready November 22 release stateside, but we'll know more when the film debuts at Cannes in two weeks.

This article is related to: Nebraska, Alexander Payne, Cannes Film Festival

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.