‘Nomadland’ censored in China over director Chloé Zhao’s criticism of country

Chloé Zhao’s new film Nomadland has been censored in China due to comments the director made about the country in a past interview.

In 2013, Zhao, who became the first Asian woman to win a Golden Globe for Best Director last month.

Initially, the film’s upcoming release was promoted in China, with state media lauding Zhao as “the pride of China”.


On Friday (March 5) though, show times for the film were removed from ticketing websites and references to the film began to disappear.

As the Guardian reports, a Nomadland-related hashtag on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo was removed, with a message saying it was taken down “according to relevant laws, regulations and political policies”.

Though the publicity for the film has been censored, Variety reports that an unpublicised release is still set to go ahead in the country.

The 2013 interview in question, with Filmmaker magazine, saw Zhao refer to China, where she grew up as a teenager, as “a place where there are lies everywhere”.

‘Nomadland’. CREDIT: Alamy

The Golden Globe-winning (Best Motion Picture – Drama) film is set to be released straight to the streaming platform Disney+ in the UK and Ireland.


Disney also said the film will be made available in cinemas when they re-open, but that is not expected to be before May 17.

Based on the non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder, the film stars Frances McDormand.

Nomadland premiered at the Venice Film Festival back in September 2020, winning the Golden Lion. It opened in the US in select IMAX cinemas on January 29, 2021 before opening in cinemas and streaming simultaneously on Disney’s Hulu platform on February 19.

McDormand recently revealed that she was offered a job in Target while working on Nomadland.

While working on the film, director Chloé Zhao (The Rider) wanted the star to “blend in” with a real nomadic community. Speaking at a press conference held on Zoom, the filmmaker said: “It was really about setting up an ecosystem, working with the nomads, because they are not always stationary and getting Fran to blend in.”

McDormand, who has won two Oscars in her career, said that she knew the strategy was working when she was offered a job in a shop. “It was successful because in one town in Nebraska I went to the local Target and I was offered employment,” she said.