Searchlight Pictures Chairmen Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula announced today a series of global screenings to commemorate Chloé Zhao’s upcoming feature film NOMADLAND’s invitations to Venice, Toronto, Telluride, and New York Film Festivals. Zhao’s third film, an exploration of modern-day van dwelling life on the road, will World Premiere with simultaneous screenings on September 11th at the 77th Venice International Film Festival and the 45th Toronto International Film Festival, both of which will feature virtual introductions by producer, writer, editor, and director Zhao, and producer and actor Frances McDormand. Telluride, which canceled its 47th edition due to the global pandemic, will host a special “Telluride from Los Angeles” drive-in screening in Southern California later in the evening, featuring in-person appearances by Zhao and McDormand. Additionally, the New York Film Festival announced NOMADLAND as the Centerpiece Selection of the 58th edition of the festival, leading into a domestic theatrical release this fall, subsequently rolling out internationally.
NOMADLAND marks the first project between Zhao and Searchlight and the fifth between McDormand and Searchlight. McDormand won an Oscar for her performance in Martin McDonagh’s film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which Searchlight released globally in 2017. Zhao adapted NOMADLAND 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 follows 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.
Searchlight coordinated the events in tandem with festival programmers to salute the spirit of collaboration between the 77th Venice International Film Festival, 47th Telluride Film Festival, 45th Toronto International Film Festival, and 58th New York Film Festival. While Telluride was ultimately canceled, executive director Julie Huntsinger sought to honor the film with a hosted drive-in screening in Southern California.
“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 Zhao.
“NOMADLAND is a true cinematic discovery,” said Utley and Gilula. “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 International Film Festival 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.”
“We can’t wait for Toronto audiences to fall in love with NOMADLAND as we did,” said TIFF Co-Heads Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey. “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.”
“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.”
“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,” said Eugene Hernandez, Director of the New York Film Festival, “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.”
“We are honored to have Chloé back at the festival with her most ambitious and moving work to date,” said New York Film Festival director of programming Dennis Lim, who chaired the festival’s Main Slate selection committee. “Anchored by Frances McDormand’s indelible performance, NOMADLAND is a road movie for our precarious times, and it establishes Chloé as one of the most clear-eyed and humane observers of life on the American margins.”
NOMADLAND is produced by Frances McDormand (HBO’s Olive Kitteridge) Peter Spears (Call Me by Your Name), Mollye Asher (The Rider), Dan Janvey (Beasts of the Southern Wild), and Chloé Zhao (The Rider). In addition to McDormand, the film features David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck.). Zhao reunites with her cinematographer on The Rider, Joshua James Richards (God’s Own Country). The film features compositions by Italian composer Ludovico Maria Enrico Einaudi and film editing by Zhao. At Searchlight, the film was overseen by Presidents of Production Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum and Vice President of Production Taylor Friedman. Zhao is a film director, screenwriter, editor, and producer known for her work on her debut feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Her second feature film, The Rider (2017), received several accolades including nominations for Independent Spirit Award for Best Film and Best Director. Zhao directed the upcoming Marvel Studios release Eternals, set for release in 2021 by Walt Disney Studios.