Themes and spirit of 'Nomadland' relevant in any part of world: Chloe Zhao

·3-min read

Los Angeles, Apr 1 (PTI) Filmmaker Chloe Zhao says the themes explored in her multiple Oscar-nominated movie 'Nomadland' are universal in nature and can connect with anyone in the world.

Based on Jessica Bruder’s book of the same name, the film feature Academy Award winner Frances McDormand as Fern, a woman who, after the economic collapse of her company town in rural Nevada, packs her van and sets off on the road to explore a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad.

The Searchlight Pictures' film has garnered six nominations at the Oscars including the best picture, best actress and the best director nod for Zhao.

'I think the themes and spirit of the story are relevant in any part of the world, and in any walk of life. The story looks at the question: When you lose everything that defines who you are, can you find yourself again? 'However at the same time, there’s also something quintessentially American about the film, which I love: the American road itself and the landscapes and people that you encounter in the movie — they are part of the pioneer culture of the American West,' Zhao said in a transcript provided by Searchlight Pictures.

The filmmaker, who moved to the US when she was a teenager, started her journey as a director with 2015 movie 'Songs My Brothers Taught Me'.

However, it was her second movie, 'The Rider', that brought critical-acclaim and global attention to her.

'Nomadland' is her third feature film and was screened at major film festivals like Toronto, Venice and London. It has been performing well in the coronavirus pandemic-hit Hollywood award season, picking up trophies at Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards.

The movie is one of the frontrunners for best picture trophy at the Oscars, scheduled to be held on April 25.

Critics have praised the film for its story and performances by the cast, as well as for capturing the landscapes of the American West.

'That’s what inspired me to make films. I come from the charismatic school of filmmaking, I always make that joke,' Zhao said.

The 39-year-old director said she has been inspired by the works of cinema legends like Wong Kar-Wai and Terrence Malick.

'Filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai has been a huge inspiration for me even though he makes films in the city. 'Happy Together' was the first film I saw that made me want to make films.

'It’s the same with the director,Terrence Malick; his landscapes make his characters feel like they’re part of something bigger, so you feel like we’re all interconnected through this nature that’s around us. For this film, I drew inspiration from the landscapes of the American West.' Zhao said it was a challenge for her to incorporate the stories of other characters in the movie, without losing focus on Fern's journey.

'From the start, the question was: How do we incorporate these characters into this film and at the same time, allow Fern’s journey to take the audience through the movie? 'We’re pragmatic in the sense that to shine light on the lives of these people, and get the audience’s attention, we needed a performance like Fern's as the anchor. But we did not want her journey to overtake the colours and the brightness of the other characters. We needed them to coexist harmoniously, and that was the challenge and what we hoped to achieve,' the filmmaker said.

'Nomadland', which also features actors David Strathairn and Linda May, will release in India on Friday. PTI RB RB BK BK