Chloe Zhao wrote her name down in history by being the first Asian woman to win the award for Best Director at the Academy Awards. She was not only the first Asian woman but also the second woman in the whole world to win this award.
Her film Nomadland grabbed this award for Best Picture and Best Director. This award was given to her virtually by Bong Joon-ho, last year’s winner for the highly acclaimed movie Parasite.
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Born in Beijing, Zhao perused her studies in the UK and US before moving to America permanently. Prior to Nomadland, Zhao directed Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015) and The Rider (2017). Currently, she is directing Marvel’s superhero movie Eternals, which stars Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden.
Despite making history, her win was blocked out by removing all news and posts that mentioned her victory. Video clips of her award-winning moment and speech were live for at least one hour, after which they started disappearing mysteriously.
Due to the resurfacing of an eight-year-old interview which involved teenage Zhao cling that China is a place with lies everywhere, Zhao became a victim to online trolling where trolls accused her of ‘smearing China”. All the promotional material and references to her film Nomadland were wiped off the internet.
The audience in Hong Kong were also unable to watch the awards, as for the first time in over 50 years they weren’t aired in real-time. The reason provided for this was that the ceremony couldn’t be aired due to commercial reasons; which raised concerns about the power of freedom.
For her speech, Zhao spoke in Mandarin, a decision which was welcomed and appreciated especially after the recent rise in Asian attacks and racism. She talked about a game that she and her father used to play, which included memorising classic poems. One line made its way into her heart and stuck, which meant ‘People at birth are entirely good’.
Her upcoming movies Eternals and Dracula are being highly anticipated and are expected to be cinematic masterpieces.