resigned from the academy’s board in 2018.

“We have settled on numeric answers to the problem of inclusion, barely recognizing that this is the industry’s problem far, far more than it is the academy’s,” Mr. Mechanic wrote in his resignation letter, which was leaked to the news media. “Instead we react to pressure. One governor even went as far as suggesting we don’t admit a single white male to the academy, regardless of merit!”

At the same time, some people have turned away from the Oscars because of its lack of diversity. Under 10 million viewers tuned into Sunday night’s telecast, according to Nielson, a 58 percent drop compared with last year. One member of the academy’s board of governors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules, said that market research had shown that people of color, upset about the racial disparity of nominees (and tired of seeing many of the same people get nominated over and over), had become less interested in the ceremony. A couple of smaller civil rights groups have called for viewing boycotts.

That was the case for April Reign, the campaign finance lawyer who originated the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag in 2015. Despite the changes at the organization, she said she believed the academy’s efforts to diversify its voting body had fallen short.

“It’s still a popularity contest among all the white men,” she said.

Others see reason for optimism in this year’s Oscars, no matter how they ended.

“To have a film about Fred Hampton that doesn’t demonize him but instead celebrates him, and provides this broader story from a group of Black filmmakers is, you know, kind of hard to believe that it would even be made much less be nominated,” Mr. Boyd said of “Judas and the Black Messiah.” “And we could go through each of these examples. It’s great. It’s wonderful. I just don’t want it to be an isolated incident.”

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China Censors Chloé Zhao’s Oscar Win

Chloé Zhao’s historic Oscar win should have been met with jubilation in China, the country of her birth. On Sunday night, she became the first Chinese and woman of color to be named best director, for “Nomadland,” which also took home the prize for best picture.

Instead, the Chinese government imposed a virtual news blackout, and censors moved to tamp down or scrub out discussion of the award on social media.

Chinese state-run news media outlets — which are typically eager to celebrate recognition of its citizens on the global stage — made nearly no mention of the Oscars, let alone Ms. Zhao. Chinese social media platforms raced to delete or limit the circulation of articles and posts about the ceremony and Ms. Zhao, forcing many internet users and fans to use homonyms and wordplay to evade the censors.

No reason has been given for the suppression, though Ms. Zhao has recently been the target of a nationalist backlash over remarks she had made about China in the past.

recent escalation in tensions between the United States and China.

“People should be celebrating — both Americans for giving her credit as a film director, and Chinese, for the fact that one of their own won a very prestigious international award,” Ms. Hung said. “But the politics of the U.S.-China relationship seem to have filtered down to the cultural and art circles, which is a shame.”

By midafternoon on Monday, The Global Times, a Communist Party-owned newspaper, broke the silence to urge Ms. Zhao to play a “mediating role” between China and the United States and “avoid being a friction point.”

“We hope she can become more and more mature,” the paper wrote in an editorial that was published only in English.

Although some posts about Ms. Zhao’s success made it through the filters, for the most part, the censors made it clear that the topic was off limits. Searches on Weibo, a popular social media platform, for the hashtag “Chloé Zhao wins the Oscar for best director” returned only the message: “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the page is not found.”

sensitive portrait of the lives of itinerant Americans, had been scheduled for release in China last week, as of Monday, there were no screenings in theaters.

The Oscars also came under fire last month for the nomination of “Do Not Split,” a film about the antigovernment protests in Hong Kong in 2019, for best short documentary. The Global Times said then that the documentary “lacks artistry and is full of biased political stances.”

Not long after, reports emerged that broadcasters in mainland China and Hong Kong would not be airing the Oscars ceremony for the first time in decades. (One of them, TVB, a Hong Kong broadcaster, said the decision was commercial.)

“Do Not Split,” lost to “Colette,” a film about a French resistance member who visits a concentration camp where her brother died. But its nomination alone had already helped raise awareness about China’s crackdown in Hong Kong, Anders Hammer, the documentary’s director, said in an interview before the awards.

“The ironic thing is that this censorship and the actions taken in Beijing and also Hong Kong have brought much more attention to our documentary and also brought much more attention to the main theme of our documentary, which is how basic democratic rights are disappearing in Hong Kong” Mr. Hammer said.

Chinese reporters working at state-controlled news outlets had been ordered weeks ago to refrain from covering the awards ceremony altogether, said two employees of Beijing-based news outlets, speaking on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue.

On Monday afternoon, there was no mention of the Oscars in the entertainment section of the flagship People’s Daily website. Instead, the top stories included a report on rural tourism in China and another on a “World Tai Chi Day” event in Malta.

But Ms. Zhao’s fans were undeterred by the censorship. On social media, they resorted to tactics that are by now familiar to many Chinese internet users: blurring out the names of Ms. Zhao and the film, writing backward, turning images on their side or adding slashes or exclamation marks between Chinese characters.

In their posts, many people praised Ms. Zhao’s acceptance speech, in which she said she had been “thinking a lot lately about how I keep going when things get hard.” For inspiration, she said she often looked to a line from a 13th-century classical text that she had memorized as a child growing up in China: “People at birth are inherently good.”

The line resonated with many Chinese who had also grown up memorizing those texts.

“It’s so hard to describe how I felt when I heard her say onstage those six characters in a Beijing accent,” one user wrote. “It may not be my favorite classical phrase — I would say I don’t even really agree with it — but in that moment I cried.”

For many observers, the censorship was something of a lost opportunity for the Chinese government, which has long sought to replicate the success of Hollywood in projecting American soft power around the world.

“The way she drew from her Chinese heritage in tackling difficulties is inspiring,” said Raymond Zhou, an independent film critic based in Beijing. “It’s sad she got massively misunderstood due to a string of cross-cultural events.”

He declined to say more, given the political sensitivity of the issue, adding only that “her body of work speaks for itself.”

Austin Ramzy and Joy Dong contributed reporting from Hong Kong. Claire Fu contributed research.

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‘Nomadland’ Wins Big at Diverse BAFTAs

LONDON — “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao’s film about a woman forced to join the rising numbers of Americans living out of vans as they search for work, was the big winner at the EE British Academy Film Awards in London on Sunday.

It was named best film at Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars, better known as the BAFTAs, beating the likes of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and the much-hyped “Promising Young Woman,” starring Carey Mulligan.

Zhao was also named best director, while Frances McDormand, the star of “Nomadland,” won best actress. The film, which has been heavily praised by British critics for its “delicate, incisive portrait of a life lived on the road,” also took the award for best cinematography.

notable for their diversity, in stark contrast to last year’s awards when no people of color were nominated in the main acting categories, and no women were nominated for best director, prompting a social media outcry.

In response, BAFTA made a host of rule changes, including requiring its members to undergo unconscious bias training before voting and involving juries in several categories.

The Father,” where he plays a man struggling with dementia, beating the likes of Riz Ahmed for his portrayal of a musician losing his hearing in “Sound of Metal,” and Chadwick Boseman for his starring role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

But Daniel Kaluuya was named best supporting actor for his role as Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” repeating his success at the Golden Globes. Yuh-Jung Youn, the veteran Korean actress, won best supporting actress for her role in “Minari.”

British people “are known as very snobbish” Youn said in her acceptance speech, saying the award meant more because of that.

The success of “Nomadland” is likely to increase hype around the film ahead of this year’s Oscars, scheduled for April 25, where it is nominated for six awards.

The BAFTAs are normally seen as a bellwether for the Academy Awards because there is some overlap between the 7,000-strong membership of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, which organizes the BAFTAs, and the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Although four of the movies contending for the best picture Oscar — “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Mank,” “Minari” and “Sound of Metal” — were not nominated in the BAFTAs best film category.

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Chloé Zhao, ‘Nomadland’ Director, Encounters a Backlash in China

When Chloé Zhao won the Golden Globe for best director for her film “Nomadland” last Sunday, becoming the first Asian woman to receive that prize, Chinese state news outlets were jubilant. “The Pride of China!” read one headline, referring to Ms. Zhao, who was born in Beijing.

But the mood quickly shifted. Chinese online sleuths dug up a 2013 interview with an American film magazine in which Ms. Zhao criticized her native country, calling it a place “where there are lies everywhere.” And they zeroed in on another, more recent interview with an Australian website in which Ms. Zhao, who received much of her education in the United States and now lives there, was quoted as saying: “The U.S. is now my country, ultimately.”

The Australian site later added a note saying that it had misquoted Ms. Zhao, and that she had actually said “not my country.” But the damage was done.

Chinese nationalists pounced online. What was her nationality, they wanted to know. Was she Chinese or American? Why should China celebrate her success if she’s American?

increasingly complex political minefield that companies must navigate there.

only major gatekeeper for films in China, determining which foreign movies got the official stamp of approval and, ultimately, access to the country’s booming box office. Now, more and more, China’s online patriots can also influence the fate of a film or a company.

little pinks,” has become another crucial consideration for companies seeking to enter the Chinese market.

“There is much more space to punch figures like Chloé Zhao,” said Aynne Kokas, the author of “Hollywood Made in China.”

The backlash against “Nomadland” was somewhat unexpected. Aside from Ms. Zhao, the film, which stars Frances McDormand in a sensitive portrait of the lives of itinerant Americans, has little if any connection to China. Though it is said to be a strong contender for the Academy Awards, it was not expected to bring in big Chinese audiences, given its limited theatrical release and its slow pacing.

But the patriotic frenzy could become a significant issue for another film directed by Ms. Zhao, “The Eternals,” a big-budget superhero movie for Disney’s Marvel Studios starring Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani and Salma Hayek. It is scheduled to debut in the United States in November, but a China release date has not been publicly announced.

Experts say that while Ms. Zhao’s background would likely have been a major selling point for “The Eternals” in China, it could now become an Achilles’ heel — a potentially devastating blow for the film and for Marvel, which has reaped huge rewards in the Chinese market with movies like “Avengers: Endgame.”

Such a scenario would be especially damaging this year, with the pandemic having decimated box offices in almost all major markets but China, where the virus is largely under control and the domestic film industry is thriving.

previously reported by Variety. “As the world’s largest market, there is much less need to bring Hollywood studio films into the market.”

Until recently, few in China had heard of Ms. Zhao, 38.

Born in Beijing, she went to boarding school in London, to high school in California and ultimately to film school at New York University. Before “Nomadland,” Ms. Zhao gained recognition for the critically acclaimed art films “Songs My Brothers Taught Me” (2015) and “The Rider” (2017).

In China, though, she was best known as the stepdaughter of the popular comic actress Song Dandan, who in 1997 married Ms. Zhao’s father, the former head of a Chinese state-owned steel company.

Ms. Zhao has spoken about what she sees as her shifting identity, a product, she said, of years spent moving around the world. She has described her Chinese heritage as part of that identity.

In a recent profile in New York magazine, Ms. Zhao referred to northerners in China as “my own people” and described herself as being “from China.” Global Times, a Chinese state-backed nationalist tabloid, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that Disney had said that Ms. Zhao was a Chinese national.

archived versions of the webpage. But by mid-February, the quote had been removed and a note added, saying that the article had been “edited and condensed after publication.” The quote is not in the latest version of the article, though it appears elsewhere on the magazine’s website.

Filmmaker Magazine did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Disney. Ms. Zhao could not be reached for comment.

Amid the nationalist-tinged outcry, many Chinese rushed to defend Ms. Zhao and heap scorn on the “little pinks” for being overly sensitive. “Nomadland” was a beautiful movie, many said, one that rose above the ugliness of politics and national borders.

Nothing comparable to its unflinching portrayal of the struggles of gig workers and America’s fraying social safety net could have been made in China, others said. On Douban, a review website popular with relatively liberal-minded Chinese, the film has nearly 66,000 reviews and a strong rating of 8.4 out of 10.

Some commenters also pointed out the irony that Chinese nationalists would want to clamp down on a film that seemed to fit so well with the narrative that official propaganda organs had recently been touting, of a rising China and a United States in decline.

“Chloé Zhao’s ‘Nomadland’ deeply reveals the crisis of America’s lower-class citizens and the difficult lives of its people,” Qiao Mu, a former professor of communications at Beijing Foreign Studies University, wrote on Weibo. “This should strengthen our pride in socialism and our self-confidence in the Chinese way.”

“She is the pride of the Chinese people,” he added, “not someone who insults China.”

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