Hybrid Drama ‘Nomadland’ Tapped for TIFF

Director/Writer Chloé Zhao, Director of Photography Joshua James Richards and Frances McDormand on the set of Nomadland. Photo: Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 20th Century Studios

By Pat Mullen

Chloé Zhao’s hybrid drama Nomadland is set for Toronto. The news comes via Manori Ravindran at Variety that Nomadland will play all the major fall festivals—Venice, Toronto, Telluride, and New York—as the first publicly announced selection of the “festival alliance” stated earlier this summer. The four festivals previously stated their intentions to work together collectively to ensure smooth experiences for filmmakers and audiences as they compete for a limited number of titles under very unusual circumstances as travel restrictions and physical distancing guidelines strain the upcoming events. NYFF confirmed the news via Twitter.

Nomadland adapts Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book that offers a sociological study of “workamper” culture. This growing slice of America’s population frees itself from the strains of capitalist society by adopting nomadic lifestyles and following seasonal work in their mobile homes. The book considers how Americans effected by poverty adapt to moments of significant social change—a factor that will undoubtedly hit a nerve as the coronavirus pandemic forces people worldwide to reflect upon the structures that govern their lives.

The film adaptation stars Frances McDormand as a fictional composite of workampers alongside many of the true subjects who informed Bruder’s book. Nomadland follows Zhao’s preference for casting real life characters in her films, as she did previously in The Rider and Songs My Brother Taught Me.

As per Variety, Nomadland will screen at TIFF and Venice simultaneously on Sept. 11. Zhao and McDormand will attend the screening virtually. Telluride, which officially cancelled its festival earlier this month, will hold a drive-in screening in Los Angeles with Zhao and McDormand, while New York has the film tapped as its Centrepiece selection. Searchlight Pictures will distribute Nomadland later this fall.

TIFF previously announced Spike Lee’s David Byrne’s American Utopia as the Opening Night Gala on Sept. 10. More TIFF selections will be unveiled soon.