Chloé Zhao
Chloé Zhao

Nomadland director Chloé Zhao will be honored with the American Perspectives Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema at the 33rd Annual Virginia Film Festival running October 21-25.

Zhao, the director of Nomadland, which will screen on Sunday, October 25 at Morven Farm as part of VAFF’s Drive-In Movie Series, will accept the award in a pre-taped message that evening.

The Virginia Film Festival’s American Perspectives Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema is designed to honor those filmmakers who delve into the increasingly complex concept of what it means to be an American in these times, with a special focus on widening that scope to include experiences and viewpoints that help us all to expand and better understand that evolving definition.

“We are proud to offer our American Perspectives Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema to Chloé Zhao,” said Jody Kielbasa, Director of the Virginia Film Festival and Vice Provost for the Arts at the University of Virginia. “Her remarkable new film Nomadland offers a look into an America few of us ever see, and at Americans who have largely been left behind by traditional society. As she has done so brilliantly in her previous films Songs My Brothers Taught Me and The Rider, Zhao takes us even deeper into this world by largely employing non-actors – giving the story a powerful authenticity, and further establishing herself as one of the most original and inventive filmmakers working in the industry today. We are delighted to share this outstanding film with our audiences this year and to honor Chloé Zhao with this well-deserved award.”

Zhao’s first feature Songs My Brothers Taught Me premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2015 and her second feature The Rider premiered at Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight in 2017 and won the Art Cinema Awards. The Rider also won best film at the 2018 Gotham Awards.

Her latest film Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand, premiered last month at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion. It won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on Dec. 4 by Searchlight Pictures.

Perhaps the most acclaimed and discussed film on the 2020 film festival circuit, Nomadland is an intimate and thoughtful portrayal of life as a modern-day nomad. Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern, played by two-time Academy Award winner Frances McDormand, takes off in a van and begins exploring life outside of conventional society in the vast landscape of the American West. Featuring first-time actors living the nomadic lifestyle who Zhao and McDormand encountered on the road, this film showcases individuals on the peripheries of our society who are redefining what the “American Dream” really looks like.

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