Chloe Zhao’s 2021 Oscar success embarrasses China
Paradoxically, as Western media praise an Asian director for Oscar triumph, China seems embarrassed by the success of Nomadland, distinguished by three prizes – best film, best director and best actress for Frances McDormand -, and the notoriety of Chloé Zhao. Several hours after the ceremony, the information still did not appear on the websites of the China Daily and Global Times. Without completely censoring it, Chinese social networks seemed to want to underplay it.
Significantly, for the first time in over half a century, Hong Kong people were unable to attend the broadcast of the ceremony. The English-language channel Pearl, which until then boasted of broadcasting in Hong Kong “Hollywood’s most glamorous event”, decided to give it up “For commercial reasons”. It is undoubtedly the presence, among the nominees, of a documentary on the democratic movement in Hong Kong which presided over this choice. Nevertheless: while the triumph of Nomadland was widely anticipated, Pearl’s decision appears surprising to say the least.
It is because Chloe Zhao is not in the odor of sanctity in Beijing. This young woman, born in 1982 and who, at the age of 15, went to study in Great Britain before going to live in the United States, declared in 2013 to Filmmaker Magazine that, when she was a teenager, China was for her a country where “The lie was everywhere”. Comments have been widely commented on – and criticized, of course – on Chinese social networks in recent weeks. Besides, Nomadland doesn’t hit theaters in China, although it should initially have been released on April 23. “If she cannot clarify what she said, under the current circumstances of the cultural struggle in China, the screening of her film is impossible. No need to hope “, commented on Monday, a user.
After his triumph two weeks ago at the BAFA, the British ceremony equivalent to the Oscars, the vice-president of the Shanghai Cinema Association, Shi Chuan, explained in the Global Times that, of course, “The film could be shown in China but might not score well at the box office”. The reason ? “Because Zhao is familiar with the Western value system which is so different from the Chinese system. “ That a representative from Shanghai implies that only Chinese films can appeal to Chinese audiences speaks volumes about the current state of mind of the leaders.
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