Chloe Zhao creates DGA Awards history, becomes first Asian woman to win top prize

Filmmaker Chloe Zhao won the top award at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards for her feature film Nomadland, further strengthening the film’s front position for the upcoming Oscars.

The Beijing-born filmmaker became the first Asian woman to win the trophy for Best Feature Direction at the 73rd edition of the awards, which was held on Saturday, reported Deadline.

She is also the second woman to receive the top DGA award after Catherine Bigelow won for the 2009 film The Hurt Locker.

The filmmaker won the Marquee Award by beating acclaimed directors David Fincher (Manc), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman).

Nomadland has Academy Award winner Frances MacDormand as a woman who leaves home to travel to the American West after losing her job. In his confession speech, 39-year-old Zhao gave an outcry to his fellow candidates for their respective films.

Calling Fennell “brilliant” and “courageous”, Zhao said that the British filmmaker has a unique voice and control over his craft.

He said, “I can’t wait to see what you are going to travel with thoughtfully.”

For Li, Zhao said, “Your film touched me on such a personal level. You are able to show us so much beauty and love in such an honest and authentic way, I think what you have done is incredible. “

He called the trial of 7 director Sorkin of Chicago a “poet”. He said, “When I watch your film, your heart can beat.”

Zhao said that Fincher’s entire filmography has been a “masterclass” for him and he feels inspired by him.

“You are not only the master of the craft, you have also created some of the most nuanced and humanistic displays that I have ever seen. Your faith is so inspiring and there is no one like you.

The winner of the top award at the DGA Awards has historically been a strong indicator of which filmmaker would go on to win the Best Director Oscar.

Although, last year Sam Mendes won the main award for the war drama 1917, South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho eventually lost the race to the Oscars, winning for his film Parasite.

Daris Murder, the man behind the Riz Ahmed-starrer Sound of Metal, received a feature film direction award for the first time.

He was pitted against one-night Regina King in Miami, Florian Zeller of The Father, Radha Blanc of The Forty-Year-Old Version and Fernando Fraz de la Parra of I’m No Longer.

In the television segment, Scott Frank of The Queen’s Gambit fame won the Directing Award for TV Film and Limited Series. Susanna Fogel won Best Directing for a Comedy Series for “The Flight Attendant”, while Leslie Linka Glutter took home the Drama Series Award for Homeland.

Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw won the Best Documentary Directing category for Sony Pictures Classics’ The Truffle Hunters.

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