China censors Nomadland post row over director Chloe Zhao's citizenship, 2013 interview

In 2013, Chloe Zhao, who was born in Beijing but moved to the US, had described China as “a place where there are lies everywhere”

FP Trending March 06, 2021 11:06:30 IST
China censors Nomadland post row over director Chloe Zhao's citizenship, 2013 interview

Frances McDormand in a scene from the film Nomadland. Image from Searchlight Pictures via AP

A 2013 interview of Nomadland director Chloe Zhao with an American magazine and row over her citizenship have now led to the film being censored in China. A week ago, the Chinese state media and people celebrated Chloe Zhao's Golden Globe for Best Director after she became the first Asian woman to win the trophy.

However, many on the internet asked about Zhao's citizenship before her interview with Filmmaker magazine further fueled the fire. Not only was the film's promotional material wiped out from the Chinese internet, but even key search terms related to Nomadland on Weibo — China's major social media platform — fetched the message, “The topic’s page cannot be shown due to related laws, regulations and policies”.

Not just that, even the poster of the movie can't be viewed anywhere on Weibo.

On Douban, another social media platform considered more liberal, images of the film's posters disappeared on Friday morning. Several users were seen discussing the unfortunate censorship of Zhao's work with many saying it had been unnecessarily politicised. “They discussed her place of birth, her family, her nationality, and the things she’s said. The only thing they didn’t discuss is the film,” a user on Douban wrote.

Zhao was born in Beijing but moved to the US. In 2013, Zhao had described China as “a place where there are lies everywhere”. Nomadland is scheduled to release in China on 23 April. Interestingly, the magazine had deleted the quote in February just days before Nomadland was allotted 23 April as the date of release in China, reported Variety.

With so much happening so quickly, the release of the film, too, appears to be in jeopardy. On Friday, Maoyan and Tao Piaopiao, key online ticketers in China, removed the film from their 23 April listings. Variety, quoting sources, reported that the makers were still hoping to go ahead with the release under the radar, keeping a low profile with promotion.

The episode has also led to many asking if the backlash and the decision to censor Nomadland was going to be temporary or may have repercussions on Zhao's future releases as well. Marvel's Eternals directed by Zhao, was eyeing China as a huge overseas market and is scheduled to hit the theatres in November this year. The film stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Kumail Nanjiani.

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