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.