TIFF 2020 film ‘Nomadland’ is a celebration of humanity & community

Asha Bajaj
2 min readSep 25, 2020

#Toronto; #TIFF2020; #GalaPresentation; #Nomadland​

Toronto, 23 Sep (Canadian-Media): Directed, edited, produced, and screen played by Chloé Zhao, recipient of the TIFF 2020 Ebert Director Award, TIFF 2020 Gala Presentation ‘Nomadland’, TIFF 2020 People’s Choice Award winner is an adapted version of Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book and celebrates humanity and community as she portrays the intimate life of widowed Fern (Frances McDormand) as a modern-day nomad.

Image: Nomadland. Image credit: TIFF

Chloe’s tact in bringing balance between Fern’s character portrayal and the vast landscape of the American West is due to her anchoring audience into Fern’s intimate portrait so that they comfortably experience the vast portrait of contemporary America.

The tone of the story is set by an early image of Fern driving her van, the only vehicle on a road surrounded by vast, empty space with mountains in the distance portraying not only her loneliness and isolation but also her individualism and resilience.

It is through Fern’s laborious life to earn a living doing odd jobs, try and fail and try again to form relationships, against the background of vast expanses of desert and sky clearly, that Chloe makes the spectators feel that they are watching a portrait of America at the present time submerged under loneliness, depression, and hopelessness and struggling to make ends meet.

Fern’s disinterestedness in the society and her surroundings become obvious as she treads her own path through a camp of nomads chatting, exercising together, or working on their caravans.

Though being relieved by not having to confront society, Fern still feels the pressure as an outsider and being continually challenged to learn how to deal with suffering and loneliness while barely surviving.

Fern’s joy of meeting a man (David Strathairn), who looks like a perfect match in a nomad community, is short-lived when her instinct reminds her that being a nomad she cannot forge a bond.

Chloe seeks out characters living in the margins of society to portray to the audience why these seeming outcasts define America, and movies, more than the big-screen protagonists.

Produced by Chloé Zhao, Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, the film’s casts are Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, and Charlene Swankie

Born in Beijing, Chloé received her BA in political science from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and her MFA in film production from NYU. Her films include the shorts The Atlas Mountains (08), Daughters (09), and Benachin (10), and the features Songs My Brothers Taught Me (15), which screened at TIFF Next Wave, and The Rider (17), which played the Festival. Nomadland (20) is her latest feature.

Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women