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Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” Is The 2020 New York Film Festival Centerpiece Selection

Well, it looks like the fall film festival season is really hoping it can still go on. The New York Film Festival, in some form or another, is especially pressing ahead, revealing the first of their big three movies for 2020, which will be Chloé Zhao’s road trip tale Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand. Read on below for the press release, which also details something special happening with all of the festivals still to come this year. Believe it or not, at least with Nomadland, the fests are teaming up, as this title will also screen at the 77th Venice International Film Festival as well as the 45th Toronto International Film Festival and a drive-in version of the Telluride Film Festival.

Here’s the official press release:

New York, NY (July 27, 2020) – Film at Lincoln Center announced today that Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland will be featured as the Centerpiece film at the 58th New York Film Festival. Nomadland will be released in theaters this fall domestically by Searchlight Pictures.

Zhao adapted Nomadland from journalist Jessica Bruder’s 2017 nonfiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century following Frances 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 her company town in rural Nevada, packs her van and sets off on the road to explore a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad.

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 includes real nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades, as well as actor David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck). Zhao reunites with her cinematographer from The Rider, Joshua James Richards (God’s Own Country). The film features compositions by celebrated Italian pianist and 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), was a NYFF55 selection and received several accolades including nominations for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Film and Best Director. In addition to Nomadland, Zhao also directed the upcoming Marvel Studios release Eternals, set for release in 2021 by Walt Disney Studios.

“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. “We’re elated to share Chloé and Fran’s remarkable achievement with New York audiences this fall.”

“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. “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.”

“I’m very excited and proud that Nomadland will screen at NYFF. I learned how to make films in New York City, at NYU. This wonderful, brave, and inspiring city means a lot to me. I’m so thankful for NYFF to invite me back to connect with its audiences,” said Chloé Zhao.

The NYFF Main Slate selection committee, chaired by Dennis Lim, also includes Eugene Hernandez, Florence Almozini, K. Austin Collins, and Rachel Rosen.
In an unprecedented collaboration between the festivals this year, Nomadland will also screen at the 77th Venice International Film Festival and the 45th Toronto International Film Festival on September 11th. The Telluride Film Festival will also host a special “Telluride from Los Angeles” drive-in screening in Southern California on September 11th.

Since 1963, the New York Film Festival has been a centerpiece of New York’s arts scene: an annual bellwether of the state of cinema that has shaped film culture in the city and beyond. Festival organizers will keep this tradition alive while adapting as necessary to the current health crisis.
As the festival dates approach, Film at Lincoln Center will share additional New York Film Festival programming updates.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema. The 58th edition continues a more than 50-year tradition of introducing audiences to bold and remarkable works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent.

For comparison, this is what has previously been the NYFF Centerpiece:

2019 – Marriage Story
2018 – Roma
2017 – Wonderstruck
2016 – 20th Century Women
2015 – Steve Jobs
2014 – Inherent Vice
2013 – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
2012 – Not Fade Away
2011 – My Week with Marilyn
2010 – The Tempest
2009 – Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
2008 – Changeling
2007 – No Country for Old Men
2006 – Volver
2005 – Breakfast on Pluto
2004 – Bad Education
2003 – The Fog of War
2002 – Punch-Drunk Love
2001 – Mulholland Drive
2000 – Pollack

As you can see, this has become a really solid position for NYFF titles, in terms of awards. So much is still in flux, both with festival season and Oscar season on the whole, that it’s hard to make any wide-reaching points, but this does seem like a sign that Nomadland sees itself as closer to Marriage Story and Roma than a Not Fade Away. Time will tell, however, but it’s certainly something to potentially look forward to…

Stay tuned for more on the 2020 New York Film Festival!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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