Chinese director Chloé Zhao, who recently won the Golden Globes for Nomadland, is working on her next feature film: Eternals. But the filmmaker is controversial in China. We tell you everything!
Chloé Zhao, referred to as a “traitor”
Since Nomadland’s Golden Globes triumphed a few days ago, Beijing-born director Chloé Zhao has made headlines on all tabloids, both in the US and in China. From the independent cinema, the director of The Rider was quickly noticed and wooed by Disney, who entrusted her with one of its most important projects: the film Eternals, which is slated for November 3, 2021.
This is not the first time Disney has entrusted directors with films that have made their lines in independent cinema. We particularly remember Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the co-directors of Captain Marvel. And it’s clear that Chloé Zhao’s choice for Eternals was pretty wise: the director’s win at the Golden Globes will no doubt attract the attention of critics and viewers, even the most reluctant.
While it is impossible for a studio with a big blockbuster to abandon the Chinese market, it appears that exploiting eternals in China is facing some difficulties. And for a good reason! Chloé Zhao lives in the United States and is currently at the center of a major controversy in her country of origin as old words have resurfaced.
As China celebrated Zhao’s Golden Globe victory, a 2013 interview in which the filmmaker declared that China “is a place where lies are everywhere” deeply shocked Chinese public opinion. Especially since the director confided in a subsequent interview that “the United States [sont] now their country. “Now considered a ‘traitor’, the director in China no longer smells of holiness.
According to Variety, the director’s latest film will be censored in China. The feature film planned for April 23, 2021 in China has disappeared from the agendas of Chinese cinemas. In addition, the hashtag “#Nomadland” has disappeared from the Weibo social network. Will it be the same for eternity? Disney needs to be prepared for any eventuality. Especially since the Nomadland example shows that it is not the purpose of the film that matters, but that of the director. That concern is shared by the New York Times, which states that Chloe Zhao’s words can become “an Achilles’ heel for the movie and for Marvel in China”.
Of course, if the strong nationalism promoted by the Chinese government is responsible for the complicated situation that the Nomadland and Eternals films find themselves in, we must not forget the context of the economic war that the United States and China live in. The two countries have understood the interest of the cinema as a soft power that allows political ideas to penetrate the population. As such, it’s not uncommon to see anti-American commentary in Chinese films, such as Wilson Yip’s cult Ip-Man saga. There is no doubt that the Chinese government will do its utmost to ensure that the director’s anti-China remarks do not “parasitize” Chinese public opinion.