Film Festival Breakouts

NYFF 2018 Main Slate Emerging Filmmakers: Chloé Zhao 


New Machine’s Ana Stefanovic profiles the new and emerging filmmakers screening in the 55th New York Film Festival’s official feature lineup, which kicks of September 27 and runs until October 15. Here we introduce you to Chloé Zhao.

Chloé Zhao – The Rider

Official Synopsis: A badly injured former champion rodeo rider and horse trainer is forced to give up the life he knows and loves in this documentary-inflected fiction film set on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, a work of exceptional compassion and truth.

About the Filmmaker:

  • Chloé Zhao is a United States-based writer and director, originally from Beijing,  but raised in London where she attended high school. Chloé studied political science at women’s college in Mount Holyoke College after which she enrolled in New York University’s Graduate Film Program
  • She says she is more interested in telling stories about men through a female gaze than about women.
  • Her second feature film, drama The Rider (2017) is about a young cowboy who undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America, after suffering a near fatal head injury.
  • The film is a hypnotic and sensitive, a brutal study of masculinity in a style that one might call lyrical realism.
  • Much of The Rider was shot at what is called ‘the magic hour’ and where possible, she preferred using natural light.
  • In the film she was used non-professional actors who were playing versions of themselves. Her goal, as she said, is to put the camera inside of the characters and to find new ways to place the camera to evoke more of a feeling.
  • Director Werner Herzog said about The Rider – “Just when you think cinema is entering a stage of stagnation, a film like this comes along and it’s very encouraging”.
  • The Rider won C.I.C.A.E. Award at Cannes Film Festival in 2017 and was nominated for Grand Special Prize at Deauville Film Festival in 2017
  • Her first feature-length drama, Songs My Brother Taught Me (2015) won Best Director at American Indian Film Festival in 2015; Best Cinematography Debut at Camerimage in 2015 and Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ Grant at Gotham Awards in 2014; FIPRESCI Prize at Jerusalem Film Festival in 2015 and Achievement in Screenwriting at Mumbai Film Festival in 2015.
  • It was nominated for American Independents at AFI Fest in 2015; for Best Picture at Athens International Film Festival in 2015; for Golden Camera at Cannes Film Festival in 2015 and Grand Special Prize at Deauville Film Festival in 2015; for Best Feature Film at Denver International Film Festival in 2015; for Best First Feature and Best Cinematography at Film Independent Spirit Awards in 2016; for Dramatic at Sundance Film Festival in 2015.

View Chloe’s portfolio on Vimeo or follow her on Twitter.