Chloé Zhao Photo Courtesy of Deadline
While the world pauses - its global citizens staying home to save lives - we would like to shine a spotlight on our notable alumni and recommend visiting or re-visiting their groundbreaking cinematic work.
In anticipation of Grad Film's Chair's Workshop with alumna Chloé Zhao tomorrow, we are featuring her work on this week's Streaming Spotlight. As a recent alum, Zhao is a relative new-comer to the industry, but has made huge waves since her feature directorial debut in 2015. She has been commended for her cinematic risk-taking, nuanced storytelling and bold vision; and - with just two features under her belt - has already been recruited into the Marvel universe. Zhao’s upcoming features include the highly-anticipated Marvel’s The Eternals and Fox Searchlight’s Nomadland (release dates yet to be determined). In the meantime, here are our recommendations for your viewing pleasure:
“Songs My Brother Taught Me”
Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015): With an older brother in jail and living with their single mother on Pine Ridge Reservation, Johnny and his sister Jashuan's lives develop new challenges when their absentee cowboy father suddenly dies. The loss prompts Johnny to strike out for Los Angeles, but would mean leaving behind his beloved sister. The New York Times calls its “breathtaking”, and guarantees that “you [will be] mesmerized by the desolate beauty of the Great Plains and the changing sky overhead.” Written and directed by Zhao.
The Rider (2017): After suffering a near fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. Written and directed by Zhao, and nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards (including Best Feature and Best Director).
Nomadland will be the followup to this feature. According to IndieWire, the film “is a road movie following Fern (Frances McDormand), a woman in her sixties, who after losing everything in the Great Recession embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. A signature of Zhao’s, the film includes real people turned actors including Linda May and Charlene Swankie.”