Chloé Zhao’s ‘Nomadland’: A group of people live in their vans and travel the US to find work

Frances McDormand in “Nomadland.” Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

In the new film “Nomadland,” Frances McDormand plays Fern, a woman who travels the American West in her van, which is also her home. She goes from one seasonal job to another. The character is based on real-life nomads, many of whom are around retirement age and resorted to life on the road after losing everything in the 2008 financial crisis. 

Some of these real-life nomads appear in the film too, befriending Fern and helping her navigate her new life. Director Chloe Zhao says of these non-actors, “They are part of why you believe that you're in this world, especially of a counterculture or a lifestyle that isn't familiar."

Frances McDormand and director/writer Chloé Zhao on the set of “Nomadland.” Photo by Joshua Richards.



  • Chloé Zhao - director, writer, and editor of “Nomadland”