Beijing (AFP)

Director Chloé Zhao, the first Asian woman to be awarded a Golden Globe for "Nomadland", was at the heart of a controversy in China on Saturday, which could jeopardize the film's release in her country of birth.

"Nomadland", a hymn to the glory of modern hippies traveling the United States in their vans, won the Golden Globes on Sunday, a ceremony whose awards are among the most coveted in American cinema.

The feature film won in the flagship category for Best Dramatic Film and Chloe Zhao, 38, received the award for Best Director.

Born in Beijing but living in the United States, Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman in Golden Globes history to be recognized for directing a film.

She is also the second woman to win in this category, after Barbra Streisand in 1984.

The award sparked admiration in China earlier this week, with media outlets spreading laudatory articles about "the Chinese director," described as "pride."

But remarks attributed to Chloe Zhao in an American magazine in 2013, in which she seemed to criticize her country of origin, then surfaced.

The director claims there, in a supposed screenshot of the article, that China is a "place where there are lies everywhere".

In another interview which also circulated on social networks, Chloé Zhao indicates that "the United States is now [her] country".

These supposed words of the director do not appear on the sites of the media in question.

But they caused an uproar in China, where Chloe Zhao was described on Saturday as "traitor" by some Internet users against a background of exacerbated nationalism.

The hashtag for "Nomadland" was meanwhile nowhere to be found on the Weibo social network, but discussions around the film and its director did not seem to be censored.

The release of "Nomadland" in China is officially scheduled for April 23.

The date, however, no longer appeared on the country's main cinema platforms and the film's release is now uncertain, Variety magazine reported on Friday.

The Chinese Federation of arthouse cinema (NAAC) did not immediately react to a request for information from AFP.

© 2021 AFP