Chloe Zhao has created Oscar history by winning the best director award for her movie "Nomadland." Zhao's remarkable success has stunned the world, putting her ethnic and cultural background under the spotlight. Zhao was born in China but has started to receive Western education since 14, with half of her adolescent years in Britain and her entire adult life in the US. She has broken out from her ethnic enclaves as she pursued a career that foreign-born Americans rarely aspire to. On her journey to Oscar, Zhao has acquired most American cultural values while defying Chinese stereotypes.
Nomadland focuses on a marginalized community typically ignored by mainstream narrative movies. It depicts an American woman who lost everything to the 2008 crisis. Trying to escape from her doomed prospect, she hit the road and has started a retirement life as a nomad. Apart from reflecting the struggles and hardships of the nomad community, Zhao's film captures their freedom, beauty, and resilience in the face of adversity. It explores a lifestyle that could only find its honors and elegance in an equality embraced society but would face contempt and apathy in a socially unjustified country. Rediscovering and highlighting the American soul through her film, Zhao couldn't be more American.
Her debut film, Song, My Brother Taught Me, marked another step on Zhao’s journey in search of American values – showing an outpouring heart to the underprivileged. To write the movie script, she spent three years living in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, an American reservation struck by severe poverty and a high crime rate, trying to connect with people often forgotten, neglected, and socially excluded. The fact that a Chinese woman tried to make a film about Native Americans by experiencing their life on the reservation has surprised many. "When I just turned up and knocked on doors… people just thought it was funny that a Chinese woman wanted to make a film about them," said Zhao.
Americans value and believe in truth and authenticity, which Zhao has pursued throughout her career – more vigorously than most of her predecessors and peers. Her movies, which blurred the lines between fiction and facts, shed an intensely authentic glimpse on the natural world in the American hinterland –from the less traveled road to the native reserves. Nomadland casts many non-professional actors – the real nomads who lived in camper vans and sought itinerant labor along the way to make ends meet. The Song, My Brother Taught Me, was shot in documentary style, featuring a cast of predominantly non-actors who genuinely conveyed their emotions on the reservation in the film – from fears and pains to joys and dreams. "Because Truth is the Only Thing We Can Afford", said Zhao.
It is unsurprising that Zhao's films have stoked far more enthusiasm and applause in the rest of the world than China, a place where Zhao described as "where lies are everywhere." Zhao's candid comments have sparked a wave of widespread anger and backlash in China – a country increasingly defensive to any perceived slights and criticism. But Zhao couldn't care less about the controversy and hasn't made any comments about it. In the end, Zhao has rediscovered her roots in America, a country that has nurtured her creative talent and that embraced her desire to challenge the status quo.
我们鼓励所有读者在我们的文章和博客上分享意见。We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. Visit the FAQ page for more information.