Walker Dialogue: Chloé Zhao
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Walker Dialogue: Chloé Zhao

“For me, filmmaking will always be driven by my desire to learn about the world I’m not familiar with. Sometimes on that journey, I also get to rediscover who I am.” —Chloé Zhao

For a very special 2021 Walker Dialogue, award-winning, Beijing-born, US-based filmmaker Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) will speak with Sheryl Mousley, former senior curator of Moving Image at Walker Art Center, and Walker audiences virtually about her remarkable career, inspirations, and influences. The writer, director, and producer will also discuss her experiential approach to emotionally intimate, humanist filmmaking. Zhao redefines and reinvents American cinema genres, creating immersive worlds with her actors and environments.

In lieu of a film retrospective in the Walker Cinema, you can view Zhao’s features from home. See below for more information.

How to View

$12 ($10 Walker members) per household

Walker Film Club Presale: Thursday, February 25, 11 am–Saturday, February 27, 10:59 am
General Member Presale: Saturday, February 27, 11 am–Thursday, March 4, 10:59 am
Public On-Sale: Thursday, March 4, 11 am

After your purchase is complete, you’ll be able to join the conversation on March 20 from your Content Page. Ticket sales will end on March 20 at 7:30 pm.

Please note, all times are in Central Time. Daylight Savings Time begins on March 14, 2021.

Songs my Brothers Taught Me (2015)

Zhao’s debut feature, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, premiered at Sundance and was selected for the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes while Zhao was still a grad student at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts. Her breakthrough film, made on the Pine Ridge reservation, is a nuanced narrative about the bond between a young Lakota Sioux brother and sister (Jashaun St. John and John Reddy) on different paths. Zhao collaborated closely with the local cast and community over four years to create the film, which was developed at the Sundance Institute.

View now via Kino Lorber.

The Rider (2017)

While filming in South Dakota, Zhao met Brady Jandreau, a rising Lakota Sioux rodeo star who experienced a life-changing traumatic brain injury. Her second feature, The Rider, again stays close to the truth with Jandreau and members of his family participating as actors and co-creators of the personal film about his life after the career-ending fall. A re-imagining of the Western genre, The Rider premiered at the Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight and won the Art Cinema award in 2017. Zhao was nominated for multiple Film Independent Spirit Awards that year and she became the inaugural recipient of the Bonnie Award, recognizing the innovative vision and breakthrough work of female directors. The film also won Best Feature at the Gotham Awards.

View now via Sony Classics.

Nomadland (2020)

The director’s first studio production, Nomadland was widely and consistently acclaimed throughout 2020 by film festivals and critics. Zhao directs award-winning actor Frances McDormand in a drama based on Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century. McDormand plays van-dweller Fern, a displaced woman on a solitary quest for happiness following the loss of a life she once lived. True to form, the film is an immersive road trip, enriching Fern’s story with the narratives of transient non-actors she meets along the way. Firmly and fearlessly rooted in the presence of the characters and the beautifully lensed Western landscapes, Zhao’s fictional interpretation is a lingering, graceful, and often surprising portrait of a distressed America adrift.

Nomadland won Best Film at the Venice Film Festival and the People’s Choice Award for Best Film at the Toronto Film Festival. It also won Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography from the National Society of Film Critics as well as Best Feature and the 2020 Audience Award for Best Feature at the Gotham Awards. Additionally, Zhao was named Best Director by the New York Film Critics and Los Angeles Film Critics, among others.

Nomadland was released theatrically by Searchlight Pictures in early 2021. View now via Searchlight Pictures or on Hulu.

Eternals (2021)

Perhaps unexpectedly to the film world but not to Zhao (a fan of manga since childhood), the filmmaker approached Marvel to write and direct Eternals, the highly anticipated action saga about immortal, ancient aliens living on earth. Later in 2021, an even wider audience will experience Zhao’s unique outsider vision and her strength creating intimate situations, this time with fantastical, universal scope and scale.

This film will be released on November 5, 2021. Find out more.


This program will have live captioning. For more information about accessibility, or to request additional accommodations, call 612-375-7564 or email access@walkerart.org.

For more information about accessibility at the Walker, visit our Access page.

Frequently Asked Questions

For help with purchasing content for yourself and others, accessing and viewing your content, or any other questions, please visit our frequently asked questions page.

Our Box Office can also provide support at 612-375-7600.
Thursdays, 11 am–9 pm
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Sundays, 11 am–5 pm
Voicemails for the Box Office will be returned as soon as possible, Tuesdays–Sundays, 10 am–5 pm.

Please note: The Box Office will also be taking calls until 7:30 pm (CDT) on Saturday, March 20.