Bruce Dern Boards Nepal-U.S. Refugee Drama ‘The World’s Happiest Man’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Bruce Dern Boards Nepal-U.S. Refugee Drama ‘The World’s Happiest Man’ (EXCLUSIVE)

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Bruce Dern will star alongside Nepali cinema stalwarts Dayahang Rai and Hari Bansha Acharya in Binod Paudel’s “The World’s Happiest Man.”

The story delves into the plight of Bhutanese-Nepali refugees who settled in the Ohio-Pennsylvania area and fought alienation and displacement.

Paudel’s “Bulbul” was chosen as Nepal’s entry in the Oscars’ international category in 2019. He won best director at Nepal‘s National Film Awards, where he had previously won the screenplay award for “Saanghuro” (2013).

Rai headlined “A Road to a Village,” which bowed at Toronto in 2023 and went on to play at Busan and Mumbai. He also stars in “The Sky is Mine.” Acharya starred in “Mahapurush,” which was Nepal’s highest grossing film of 2022.

“The World’s Happiest Man” participated in the 2019 Busan Asian Project Market under the title “Akron International.” The U.S.-Nepal project is produced by Rajendra Thakurathi, Amitabh Joshi and Abeeral Thapa, with L.N. Adhikari, Kaushila Karmacharya, Ramesh Bhatta and Apaar Shrestha serving as executive producers and Deepak Gajmer as line producer. The production companies are Mad Monkey Films, Thakurathi Bros., Vacant Light and Everest Entertainment.

Dern has been Oscar-nominated twice, for “Coming Home” (1979) and “Nebraska” (2013), for which he won best actor at Cannes.

“For me, it’s all about family and how they come together or fall apart. In this story, a family is separated by geography and culture. It’s a film that reflects my split soul between countries. Nepal has a burgeoning film industry, and this is an opportunity for us to bridge Nepal and the United States. It’s an honor for us to be working with a luminary like Bruce. This is a film about longing for a homeland that no longer exists,” Paudel told Variety.

Nepalese films have been making a mark internationally in recent years. In 2023, besides “A Road to a Village,” “The Red Suitcase” debuted at Venice and went on to play Zurich and Mumbai and Nepal-India production “Guras” bowed at Karlovy Vary. Earlier, in 2016, “White Sun” had considerable festival play and won an award at Venice.

“The World’s Happiest Man” is shooting on location in Akron, Ohio and surrounding towns.

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