Oscars 2021: Chloe Zhao's Best Director win meets lukewarm response, censorship in her home country China

Zhao faced a nationalist backlash in March when she won a Golden Globe for Best Director, with internet users in China questioning whether she could be called Chinese and some saying she had insulted her home country in comments on the political system.

The Associated Press April 26, 2021 10:28:34 IST
Oscars 2021: Chloe Zhao's Best Director win meets lukewarm response, censorship in her home country China

Director Chloe Zhao with actor Frances McDormand on the sets of Nomadland. Image via The Associated Press

Taipei: Chloe Zhao’s history-making Oscars sweep, winning best director and best picture, is being met with a muted response in her country of birth, and even instances of censorship.

Zhao’s Nomadland is the second film directed by a woman to win a Best Picture Oscar. She is the first woman of color and second woman ever to win the Oscars for best director.

Yet, in China, where Zhao was born, her history-making success has not been trumpeted or celebrated. State media in China had yet to celebrate her win by late 26 April morning, with CCTV and Xinhua, the two main state media not posting her win.

Instead, there was even censorship. A post announcing Zhao’s directing win by film magazine Watch Movies, which has over 14 million followers on the ubiquitous Weibo microblog, was censored a few hours after it appeared. A hashtag called 'Chloe Zhao wins Best Director' was also censored on the platform with users coming across an error message saying, “according to relevant laws and regulations and policies, the page is not found.”

Oscars 2021 Chloe Zhaos Best Director win meets lukewarm response censorship in her home country China

Chloé Zhao made history at the Oscars 2021 by becoming the first woman of colour winning an Academy Award for Best Director. Image via Twitter

Still, the news of her wins filtered quickly onto the Chinese internet, with individual web users and bloggers cheering Zhao. Many took note of her acceptance speech, in which Zhao quoted a line from a poem written in the 13th century that she, like many other Chinese children, had memorized as a child, which translates as, “People are good at birth.”

Zhao faced a nationalist backlash in March when she won a Golden Globe for Best Director, with internet users in China questioning whether she could be called Chinese and some saying she had insulted her home country in comments on the political system. China’s press, television and social media are tightly controlled by the ruling Communist Party, either directly or through self-censorship, and online criticism can frequently result in calls for boycotts of entertainers or name brands.

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