Venice Film Festival: Golden Lion for "Nomadland", by Chinese-American Chloé Zhao

“Nomadland”, by Chinese-American director Chloé Zhao, 2020 Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

© The Venice Film Festival 2020

Text by: Siegfried Forster Follow

7 min

The Sino-American director Chloé Zhao, 38, won this Saturday, September 12 the Golden Lion of the Venice Mostra 2020. Her film Nomadland tells the story of the new nomads, the neglected of American society.

A strong signal for cinema and women directors around the world.


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Tears of joy shared in the

sala grande

of the Palace of the cinema in Venice.

La Mostra has shown the whole world that it is possible to have a great film festival in the time of the coronavirus while hosting magnificent works.


We can say we did it.

We are not proud to have been the first, but satisfied to have shown that it was possible

 ”, thus summarized Roberto Cicutto, the president of the Venice Biennale, the adventure of the festival.

A Golden Lion in a van

With Chloé Zhao, this is the first time in the history of the oldest international film festival that a Golden Lion winner has thanked the Mostra while sitting in a van.

Blocked in the United States, her video message was a nod to the story of her film.


is a road movie about a special category of the abandoned of American society: the new nomads.

Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand plays Fern, first a widow, then fired.

She is one of those homeless people living in a cobbled together van and surviving on “bullshit jobs” or a few dollars in retirement.

Tragic stories resonate, breathtaking landscapes pass by.

A new community is being built, on the roadsides or on social networks (#vanlife).

Without a tearful note, with a lot of humility and introspection.

A poetic and unexpected portrait of the new pioneers of poverty. 

The Chinese-American filmmaker, born in 1982, spent her childhood in Beijing before leaving for the United States to study political science in Massachusetts first and then to study film in New York.

From her second feature film,

The Rider

, she caused a sensation at the Cannes Film Festival, where in 2015 she won the Art Cinema Prize for best film at the Directors' Fortnight. 

British actress Vanessa Kirby, winner of the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival 2020 for her role in "Pieces of a Woman" by Kornel Mundruczo.

© Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Vanessa Kirby, the star of the Lido

With eight films of women out of 18 in the running for the Golden Lion, the Venice Film Festival promised itself from the start as a unique edition.

Among the many extraordinary actresses, it was the Briton Vanessa Kirby who was distinguished with the Volpi Cup for the best female interpretation for her moving play in

Pieces of a Woman


In this extraordinary film, she gives substance to a half-hour sequence shot of a home birth to then face the greatest tragedy of her life ...  

The story was directed and written by Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo and his wife Kata Wéber who personally experienced the tragedy of losing a child during childbirth.

Vanessa Kirby, to prepare for this role unlike any other, attended a real childbirth in London.

She dedicated her prize " 

to all mothers who have lost their babies

 " and to Venice which " 

made it possible to share this story which is rarely told.


The years of lead in Italy

Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino received the Volpi Cup for best male performance.



, he plays Alfonso, a father victim of a terrorist commando.

He represents with great subtlety the vulnerability that has entered forever in his life and the life of his wife and son.

A strong, magnetic and heroic figure, produced by the Italian filmmaker Claudio Noce, who tells his own story with his father in 1976, during the years of lead in Italy. 

The Grand Jury Prize for Michel Franco

With his shocking film

Nueve Orden

, the Mexican Michel Franco won the Silver Lion, the Grand Jury Prize.

It plunges us into an ultra-violent class struggle.

The beginning is somewhat reminiscent of


, but the Mexican director is not limited to a dystopian story at the family level.

It extends disaster, violence and despair to an entire country.

The new order brought about by a popular revolt will also be unjust and violent, but more totalitarian.


I started the story six years ago, and I had no idea how close reality came to my story: the yellow vests in France, the movements in Chile, in Hong Kong, Black Lives Matter.

I am not a visionary.

You have to be blind not to see that you are going into a dead end, with more and more inequality.

If we continue to ignore the poor, we will come to this situation.


Mexican director Michel Franco, Silver Lion, Grand Jury Prize for “Nueve Orden” at the Venice Film Festival 2020 © Tiziana FABI / AFP

In the Orizzonti section, Moroccan singer Khansa Batma received the award for Best Female Performance for

Zanka Contact

, from Moroccan director Ismaël El Iraki: " 

She is strong and beautiful, she is my hero


Yahya Mahayni won the award for Best Male Performance for

The Man Who Sold His Skin

, by Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia).

Rajae (Khansa Batma) in "Zanka Contact" by Ismaël El Iraki.

The Venice Film Festival 2020

The main prizes awarded at the Venice Film Festival 2020


- Golden Lion for best film:


 by Chloé Zhao (United States)

- Grand Jury Prize: 

Nuevo Orden

by Michel Franco (Mexico)

- Silver Lion for best director: the Japanese Kiyoshi Kurosawa for

The sacrificed lovers

- Best Screenplay Award: Indian Chaitanya Tamhane, screenwriter and director of

The Disciple

- Special Jury Award:

Dear Comrades

 of Andreï Kontchalovsky (Russia)

- Best Actress Award: British Vanessa Kirby for her role in 

Pieces of a Woman

 by Kornel Mundruczo

- Best actor award: Italian Pierfrancesco Favino for his role in


 by Claudio Noce (Italy)

- Marcello Mastroianni award for best young performer: Iranian Rouhollah Zamani, a street child in Tehran protagonist for his first role in 


 by Majid Majidi.


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