The full lineup for the Venice Film Festival will be announced tomorrow morning in Rome, but today it was unveiled that Chloe Zhao’s upcoming feature Nomadland has been set to world premiere on September 11 on the Lido. It will also have a simultaneous screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, both of which will feature virtual introductions by producer, writer, editor, and director Zhao, and producer and star Frances McDormand.
In a show of solidarity amongst the major fall festivals, Searchlight Pictures Chairmen Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula announced today that Zhao’s third feature has also been invited to Telluride and New York. Telluride, which canceled its 47th edition due to the global coronavirus pandemic, will host a special “Telluride from Los Angeles” drive-in screening in Southern California later in the evening of September 11, featuring in-person appearances by Zhao and McDormand. Additionally, the New York Film Festival has set Nomadland as the Centerpiece Selection of its 58th edition, leading into a domestic theatrical release this fall, then subsequently rolling out internationally. Searchlight coordinated the screening events in tandem with programmers to salute the spirit of collaboration of this year’s fall fests.
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Zhao, whose two previous features, (Songs My Brothers Taught Me and The Rider) have run in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, was a Deadline One To Watch in 2017. Her heartland rodeo drama The Rider took the top prize in the Fortnight that year. She has also directed Disney/Marvel’s The Eternals, currently set for release in early 2021.
Nomadland is described as an exploration of modern-day, van-dwelling life on the road. Zhao adapted the story from journalist Jessica Bruder’s 2017 non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century following McDormand and producer Peter Spears’ acquisition of the literary adaptation rights shortly after publication. The film centers on Fern (McDormand), a woman who, after the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The film features real nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West. The film also features Oscar nominee David Strathairn.
Zhao, who was born in Beijing, went to school in the UK and college in the U.S. before settling in Denver, said today, “The American road fascinates me. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful and deeply complicated. I’ve traveled it for many years and always hoped to capture a glimpse of it. I’m thankful to be able to make Nomadland and excited for audiences to join Fern on her adventure.”
Said Utley and Gilula, “Nomadland is a true cinematic discovery. We are grateful to Chloé and the entire Nomadland filmmaking team and to the festival community that is essential to the success of independent films, and we thank Alberto and Giulia, Julie and Tom, Cameron and Joana, and Eugene and Dennis for the opportunity to be a part of this unique time in our industry’s changing landscape. Chloé reminds us that film has the power to connect us no matter how far apart we might seem. We hope this special film can move audiences across the world and further support global cinema.”
“It is both a great pleasure and honor to be part of Chloé Zhao’s new film’s unveiling to the world,” said Venice Director Alberto Barbera. “Nomadland is a brave and touching journey into a world that exists under the radar of mainstream social consciousness. It is a film that acquires particular meaning in a moment of pandemic-induced seclusion, proving that values like mutual support and a strong sense of community can save us from solitude, failure and despair. I am also happy to share the opportunity to support this beautiful film with our fellow festivals of Telluride, Toronto, and New York: a concrete sign of solidarity and collaboration in this unprecedented and difficult time.”
TIFF Co-Heads Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey added, “We can’t wait for Toronto audiences to fall in love with Nomadland as we did. Frances McDormand’s heartbreaking performance and Chloé Zhao’s wise embrace of American outcasts make this a film everyone should see. We’re proud to join our colleagues in Venice, Telluride and New York in presenting this terrific new film from Searchlight.”
Eugene Hernandez, Director of the New York Film Festival, said, “We knew that Chloé Zhao’s masterful film, Nomadland, deserved a central spot at the New York Film Festival as soon as we saw it. It was hardly surprising to learn that the film had also resonated with our friends in Venice, Telluride and Toronto. We’re elated to share Chloé and Fran’s remarkable achievement with New York audiences this fall, in solidarity with our festival colleagues.”
“Chloe’s understanding and depiction of the layered beauty of the human experience achieves new heights in Nomadland,” said Telluride Film Festival executive director Julie Huntsinger. “Tom Luddy and I believe in her vision and are grateful to unite with our colleagues in Toronto, Venice and New York to highlight this sensitive and stunning achievement.”
Nomadland is produced by McDormand, Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Zhao.
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