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."