'Nomadland' Wins Top Prize at Venice Film Festival

Manila Bulletin, September 13, 2020 | Go to article overview

'Nomadland' Wins Top Prize at Venice Film Festival


VENICE, Italy (AFP) - "Nomadland" by director Chloe Zhao scooped the top prize at the Venice film festival on Saturday, the first woman to win the Golden Lion in a decade.

Eighteen films battled it out for this year's Golden Lion at the Venice film festival

The film, an ode to American wanderlust and the highs and lows of the open road, won the top honour in a competition billed as a relaunch of global cinema bruised by the coronavirus crisis.

Starring Frances McDormand, it is set among a motley tribe of ageing van dwellers, down on their luck and roaming the West. The double-Oscar winner plays a widow who takes to the road after losing her home.

Its Chinese-born director Chloe Zhao picked up the coveted award 10 years after Sofia Coppola's 2010 win for her film "Somewhere", in a year in which nearly half of the films in the main competition were directed by women.

Via Zoom, Zhao and McDormand appeared from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California -- where the film had a US premiere on Friday -- sitting inside the van used in the film.

"Thank you so much for letting us come to your festival in this weird, weird world and way," said McDormand.

"We will see you down the road," they said in unison, quoting a greeting used by the van dwellers in the film.

The 77th edition of the "Mostra" festival -- presided over by Australian actress Cate Blanchett as jury president -- took place in a year when theatres have been closed, film sets shut down and moviegoers forced to embrace streaming video at home instead, during months of coronavirus-imposed lockdown.

Hot new talent

Zhao, 38, is one of Hollywood's hottest new talents, with Variety magazine having hailed her last film, "The Rider", about a rodeo grunt, as a "mini-masterpiece." She is currently making the next Marvel movie, "The Eternals".

"Nomadland" was loudly applauded when it premiered at Venice Friday and had horns honking at a Pasadena drive-in cinema for its US premiere.

The Hollywood Reporter called the film "a unique portrait of outsider existence" while Variety said it was "a marvel of empathy and introspection".

Zhao, who cast real van dwellers opposite McDormand, insisted the film was not political, but many saw it as a subtle allegory on US decline, with its humble heroes clinging onto the last threads of the American Dream. …

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