Chloe Zhao’s Oscar win was a historic moment as she bagged the award for Best Director for Nomadland, and became the second woman in the Academy Awards history to take away the trophy. She also became the first person of colour ever to bag an Oscar. Zhao also became the first Chinese woman to have achieved this feat. She also became the first director from the MCU’s wing to win a Best Director Oscar. While the world applauded Zaho’s win, China censored it across the nation.
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Chloe Zhao’s Oscar win got zero coverage from the Chinese state-run media. Zhao received such a cold reaction from her birth country because of an old interview that she gave in 2013. She had told Filmmaker Magazine that China is “a place where there are lies everywhere”. Citing this as a reason for their anger, the official news agency in China like Xinhua, the national broadcaster CCTV, and the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) mouthpiece People’s Daily didn’t report on Zhao’s success at the Academy Awards.
“One of the exceedingly rare pieces of coverage, on private news site 163.com, actually used the occasion of her victory as an opportunity to not-so-subtly assert one of China’s most important – and contentious – geopolitical priorities,” stated a news piece in Hollywood Report.
While Xinhua did not cover the news about her historic win, her work was always been praised by them. “The evocative feature film, Nomadland, the latest effort by insightful Chinese female director, Chloe Zhao, is sweeping the awards circuit in the United States, putting her on the fast track for Oscar contention… Zhao has a unique vision which is serving her in good stead now,” Xinhua had reported.
Not aware of the same, Zhao’s acceptance speech at the Oscars, however, did show her Chinese cultural roots. “I’ve been thinking a lot lately of how I keep going when things get hard. I think it goes back to something I learned when I was a kid. When I was growing up in China, my Dad and I used to play this game. We would memorise classic Chinese poems and texts, and we would recite them together and try to finish each other’s sentences. There’s one that I remember so dearly, it’s called the Three Character Classics. The first phrase goes… ‘People at birth are inherently good.’ Those six letters had such a great impact on me when I was a kid, and I still truly believe them today.
Even though sometimes it might seem like the opposite is true, I have always found goodness in the people I met, everywhere I went in the world. So this is for anyone who had the faith, and the courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves, and to hold on to the goodness in each other, no matter how difficult is to do that. And this is for you. You inspire me to keep going,” the director said while accepting her award.