Chloé Zhao: “Frances McDormand asked me to direct Nomadland”

The big winner of the Oscars 2021 arrives in French theaters.

Update of June 8, 2021: After being the first woman to receive the Golden Globe for Best Director since Barbra Streisand in 1984 (for Yentl), Chloe Zhao succeeded Kathryn Bigelow (Minesweepers) by becoming the second Oscar winner for best achievement with Nomadland. Also crowned best film, the feature film worn by Frances McDormand (who for his part won the Oscar for best actress) is finally released in theaters in France this Wednesday, June 9.

These awards have come to reward the irresistible rise of this 38-year-old Chinese filmmaker, revealed at Sundance and Cannes in her first feature film, The songs that my brothers taught me (2015). Two years later, she was again invited to the Directors’ Fortnight and received a prize for her second film, The Rider, which will also be rewarded at Deauville.

We have not finished hearing about Chloé Zhao, who directed The Eternals for Marvel and is already working on a new project around the character of Dracula for Universal. Last January, she answered Première’s questions:

Golden Globes 2021: The big winners in cinema are Jodie Foster, Chadwick Boseman, Chloé Zhao, Soul, Borat 2 …

Nomadland follows a sexagenarian who, victim of the crisis, takes to the road behind the wheel of her van where she will live as a nomad. How does the desire to bring this story to the screen come about?

I’ve always wanted to make a road movie. However, after the release of The Rider, I received a call from Frances McDormand who explained to me that she had acquired the rights to the book by Jessica Bruder, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century and suggested I read it to see if I would be interested in bringing it to the screen. I fell in love with her for this incredible work of investigative journalism on those who chose a nomadic life, after having lost what little they had.

Why did you decide to treat this subject with fiction and not with documentaries?

It was the power of fiction that drove me to make films. I naturally need to go through it to bring poetry to a story and because it naturally allows to create different entry points to this story. My goal is not to deliver a social commentary on the state of America but to enter the world of the nomads and to share that as best as possible with the spectators.

Did you have any movie references in mind while embarking on a road movie across the United States?

No, not more than pictures. With Joshua James Richards who signed the light of all my films, our goal was to transcribe the way in which these nomads see these landscapes as far as the eye can see that they cross. And therefore to separate them precisely from postcard representations.

Leave a Reply