Born in Beijing but fascinated by the American West, “Nomadland” director Chloe Chowe has Hollywood in her hands with many prestigious award nominations and Marvel superheroes on the way.
The 38-year-old director was nominated for four Oscars on Monday, including Best Director and Best Picture, for her heartwarming film depicting declassified Americans who travel to the country in trucks for temporary jobs.
She is the first woman to receive four Academy Award nominations in a year, and the first non-white woman to be nominated for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Award for Best Director, just two weeks after she won the historic Golden Globe as a director. .
He said in a statement to the American media: “Thank you very much to my fellow Academy members for their appreciation for this film, which is very close to my heart.”
Nestled in the breathtaking landscapes of unknown and sparsely populated states like South Dakota and Nebraska, Nomadland is the Chinese artist’s latest love letter to the vast and rugged expanses of her adopted homeland.
With her debut film, “Songs My Brothers Taught Me,” about a teenage girl dreaming of life outside Pine Ridge Indian Reserve, Chow immersed for several months in the lives of indigenous South Dakota.
Chow discovered pictures of the Lakota Sioux land while studying filmmaking in New York. He then envisioned the project to “tell a story that could make things better” for them, as he explained in a recent interview with New York magazine.
The film won awards at festivals, but the highlight is coming two years later with “The Rider,” another semi-western movie shot in Pine Ridge and nearby Badlands National Park, which will be back in “Nomadland”.
Another common theme in Zhao’s films is working with non-professional actors who play semi-fictional versions of themselves.
“I’m not the type of writer and director who can create her own characters in a room,” she told New York magazine.
For “Nomadland”, the director worked with an accomplished actress like Frances McDormand, who Zhao inspired her to make her personal journey to play her nomadic role, Fern.
After winning the Golden Globes, Chow celebrated the appreciation this brings to the nomadic community.
“If this means more people … look at someone who is not living in a traditional house, is living an alternate lifestyle, and maybe they greet him and say hello, that will make their day,” Zhao told AFP.
– ‘Strong competitor’ –
Zhao Ting was born the daughter of a wealthy executive of a Chinese iron company, and the director left China as a teenager to attend a British boarding school before finishing her education in Los Angeles and New York, where Spike Lee worked as a teacher.
Zhao’s success was initially celebrated in her home country, as state media described her as “the pride of China.” But then a 2013 interview resurfaced as he allegedly described China as “a place where there are lies everywhere,” making it a target for criticism.
He was described by some nationalists as a “traitor,” a controversy that could jeopardize the Chinese premiere of “Nomad Land”.
Although the film itself has no political overtones, it hints at the brutality of extreme capitalism, which provided no safety net for older Americans.
Chow told New York Magazine that something one of the nomads said during the movie was “the most socialist speech I’ve ever heard, and I’m from China.”
The director resides in Ojai, a small California country town about 150 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles that is deeply steeped in hippie culture. He lives there with his partner, a British cinematographer, and two dogs.
While “Nomadland” is being distributed by Searchlight, Disney’s trademark, the upcoming Zhao movie is linked to blockbusters linked to major Hollywood studios.
Zhao directs “Eternals”, a superhero movie in the Marvel series, starring famous people like Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.
In February, it was also announced that Zhao would lead a version of “Dracula” in a future western science fiction key for Universal Studios.
It remains to be seen how Zhao handles the transition from freelance author to movie star in Mecca, but the focus for now is on “Nomadland” and her Oscar performance.
“I think it’s fair to say that it has been a wonderful year,” one academy voter told AFP. “It is definitely a strong competitor.”
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