nomadland trailer

Less than four years after the breakout success of The RiderChloé Zhao is already one of the biggest names in Hollywood. The Beijing-born director is working on Marvel Studios’ highly anticipated blockbuster Eternals, but before that, she has another indie arthouse film set to sweep the film festival circuit this year. Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand, is Zhao’s anticipated follow-up to The Rider, another melancholic Western that stars the Oscar winner as a wandering nomad in the contemporary American West. Watch the Nomadland trailer below.

Nomadland Trailer

How did Zhao pull it off? Somehow, amid all the hype for the Chinese director taking the reins of Marvel’s tentpole superhero film Eternals, Zhao managed to sneak in another indie arthouse drama with none other than Frances McDormand as her star. Based on Jessica Bruder’s 2017 non-fiction novel Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, the story of the real-life nomads wandering the American West appealed to Zhao, and she couldn’t pass it up.

“I’m not the kind of filmmaker who just makes films,” Zhao said in an interview with IndieWire. “I have to be in love with my subject matter and want to learn more about it. Someone once said to me that passion doesn’t sustain, but curiosity does. I have to be excited by little things I discover along the way.”

Zhao wrote the screenplay and nabbed star McDormand, whom she had met at the 2018 Independent Spirit Awards, where McDormand was nominated for Best Actress and Zhao received a $50,000 grant for women directors. McDormand stars as Fern, who in 2011, abandons her hometown of Empire, Nevada, after an economic collapse forces its sheetrock factory to close. She packs up her things and lives out of her van, traveling the American West and wandering through desert campgrounds and tourist attractions. The very brief teaser trailer shows McDormand wandering through one of those campgrounds, greeting the various people staying there.

Nomadland is set to make the major film festival rounds at Venice, the Toronto International Film Festival, and New York Film Festival, where it will be the Centerpiece selection. It also gets a drive-in premiere on September 11 at Pasadena’ Rose Bowl produced in conjunction with Telluride

Here is the synopsis for Nomadland:

Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, NOMADLAND 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.

Nomadland hits theaters on December 4, 2020.

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