Chloé Zhao, director of Nomadland, a film selected this year at the Oscars, did not see a feature film about his childhood in China before “a few years”, she told the press during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Asked about the subject on April 6 during a virtual roundtable with other Oscar-nominated directors, Chloe Zhao judged that “digging into your own past was the hardest thing.” The Beijing-born director added that she feels better telling other people’s stories. His film, Nomadland, adapted from the novel byAmerican Jessica Bruder, a An anthem to the glory of modern hippies crisscrossing the United States in their vans, won it in the flagship category for best dramatic film and its 38-year-old director received the award for best director at the Golden Globes.
She nevertheless praised the courage of Lee Isaac Chung, whose film Minari is directly inspired by the installation of his family, immigrants from South Korea, on a farm lost in Arkansas in the 1980s.
“I should think back to the angst of adolescence, all of that, and where I’m from”, she explained. “It will take me a few more years. I think I need to mature further, not to be afraid to look myself in the face.”
Chloe Zhao, who comes from a wealthy Chinese family, left China when she was still a teenager to attend an English boarding school, before continuing her studies in Los Angeles, then in New York, where she notably had Spike Lee as a teacher.
The director’s early successes had first won her praise in her native country, where she had been called “pride”. But remarks attributed to her in an American magazine in 2013, where she seemed to criticize her country of origin, then resurfaced, casting a shadow on the board.
She has since been the target of criticism from certain nationalists who have called her “traitor”, a controversy that could jeopardize the release in China of Nomadland, an intimate road movie about elderly Americans who crisscross the United States in motorhomes.