Chloé Zhao (born Zhao Ting, March 31, 1982) is a Chinese film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor. Her debut feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015), premiered at Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim and earned a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. Her second feature film, The Rider (2017), was critically praised and received nominations for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Film and Best Director.
Zhao at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con
March 31, 1982
Zhao garnered further success with Nomadland (2020), which received widespread acclaim and won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. She ventured into blockbuster filmmaking with the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Eternals, slated for release in November 2021.
Zhao was born and raised in Beijing to Zhao Yuji, former general manager of a state-owned steel company. Her parents separated and her father later remarried to actress Song Dandan. Growing up, she was drawn to influences from Western pop culture. She attended a boarding school in London, then moved to Los Angeles to finish high school.
In 2010, Zhao's short film Daughters premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and won Best Student Live Action Short at the 2010 Palm Springs International ShortFest and Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Cinequest Film Festival.
In 2015, Zhao directed her first feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me. Filmed on location at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the film depicts the relationship between a Lakota Sioux brother and his younger sister. The film premiered as part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance Film Festival. It later played at Cannes Film Festival as part of the Director's Fortnight selection. The film was nominated for Best First Feature at the 31st Independent Spirit Awards.
In 2017, she directed The Rider, a contemporary western drama which follows a young cowboy’s journey to discover himself after a near-fatal accident ends his professional riding career. Similar to her first feature, Zhao utilised a cast of non-actors who lived on the ranch where the film was shot. Zhao's impetus for making the film came when Brady Jandreau—a cowboy whom she met and befriended on the reservation where she shot her first film—suffered a severe head injury when he was thrown off his horse during a rodeo competition. Jandreau later starred in the film playing a fictionalised version of himself as Brady Blackburn.
The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival as part of the Directors' Fortnight selection and won the Art Cinema Award. The film earned her nominations for Best Feature and Best Director at the 33rd Independent Spirit Awards. At the same ceremony, Zhao became the inaugural winner of the Bonnie Award, named after Bonnie Tiburzi, which recognizes a mid-career female director. The film was released on April 13, 2018 by Sony Pictures Classics and was critically acclaimed. Peter Keough of The Boston Globe wrote: "[The film] achieves what cinema is capable of at its best: It reproduces a world with such acuteness, fidelity, and empathy that it transcends the mundane and touches on the universal."
In 2020, Zhao directed her third feature film Nomadland. The film was shot over four months traveling the American West in a RV with real-life nomadic workers. The film premiered at Venice Film Festival where it received critical acclaim and won the Golden Lion award, and subsequently won the People's Choice Award at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. The film is set to be released on December 4, 2020 by Searchlight Pictures.
In April 2018, it was announced that Amazon Studios greenlit Zhao's upcoming untitled Bass Reeves biopic, a historical Western about the first black U.S. Deputy Marshal. Zhao is set to direct the film and write the screenplay. In September 2018, Marvel Studios hired her to direct Eternals, based on the comic book characters of the same name. The film is set to be released on November 5, 2021.
|2015||Songs My Brothers Taught Me||Yes||Yes||Yes||Also editor|
Critical and commercial reception to Zhao's directorial features.
|Film||Rotten Tomatoes||Metacritic||BFCA||Budget||Box office|
|Songs My Brothers Taught Me||91% (23 reviews)||63 (10 reviews)||65/100||N/A||$0.1 million|
|The Rider||97% (182 reviews)||92 (42 reviews)||96/100||N/A||$4.2 million|
|Nomadland||96% (112 reviews)||97 (24 reviews)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
- Sam Fragoso (April 15, 2018). "Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso" (Podcast). Talk Easy. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
- Powers, John (March 23, 2018). "How Chloé Zhao Reinvented the Western". Vogue. Condé Nast. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
- Mullen, Matt (April 13, 2018). "THE RIDER IS AN EARLY CONTENDER FOR BEST FILM OF 2018". Interview. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
- Gardiner, Margaret (May 23, 2017). "Chloé Zhao: A Woman Telling a Cowboys' Tale". Golden Globes. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
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- Ponsoldt, James (March 8, 2018). "Rodeo Dream: Chloé Zhao on The Rider". Filmmaker. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
- Hodson, Hayley (June 9, 2018). "Chloe Zhao's 'The Rider' is riveting". The Stanford Daily. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
- "Tisch Alumni Win Cannes Honors". Tisch School of the Arts. June 2, 2017. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
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- "The Bonnie Award". www.thebonnieaward.com. Retrieved 2019-10-27.
- "The Rider Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
- Keough, Peter (April 25, 2018). "'The Rider': What cinema is capable of at its best". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
- Keegan, Rebecca (September 2, 2020). "Director Chloe Zhao Arrives With Early Oscar Contender 'Nomadland' and Next Year's 'Eternals': "It's a Bit Surreal"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- Tartaglione, Nancy (September 12, 2020). "'Nomadland' Scoops Golden Lion At Venice Film Festival – Full List Of Winners". Deadline. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- Etan Vlessing, "Toronto: Chloe Zhao's 'Nomadland' Wins Audience Award". The Hollywood Reporter, September 20, 2020.
- N'Duka, Amanda (April 20, 2018). "Amazon Studios Lands Biopic on Bass Reeves, First Black U.S. Deputy Marshal, From 'The Rider' Helmer Chloé Zhao". Deadline. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
- Kit, Borys (September 21, 2018). "Marvel Studios' 'The Eternals' Finds Its Director With Chloé Zhao". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 21, 2018. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Jame, Coyle (September 13, 2020). "With quiet humanity, Chloe Zhao's 'Nomadland' makes noise". Associated Press. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
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- "Chloé Zhao Movies Profile - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
- "Critics Choice". Broadcast Film Critics Association. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
- "Chloe Zhao - Box Office - The Numbers". The Numbers. Retrieved June 14, 2018.