Chloé Zhao Becomes Second Woman Ever to Win BAFTA Directing Award

chloe zhao

She follows Kathryn Bigelow, who became the only female winner in the category for 'The Hurt Locker' in 2010.

Nomadland filmmaker Chloé Zhao made history at the 74th British Academy Film Awards, becoming just the second woman ever to win Best Direction. She follows Kathryn Bigelow, who became the only female winner in the category for The Hurt Locker in 2010.

Zhao is also the first Asian woman to take home the prize and the third Asian person ever to win Best Direction, following Ang Lee, who won twice for Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Akira Kurosawa, who first won in 1981 for Kagemusha

In her acceptance speech, Zhao thanked "the nomadic community who so generously welcomed us into their lives." "How we treat our elders says a lot about who we are as a society, and we need to do better," she added. 

The director also acknowledged the significance of her win for other Asian women. "If this means more people like me get to live their dreams, then I feel very grateful," she shared. 

Zhao’s win ends an 11-year drought between female winners. Her win comes as the BAFTA Awards also recognized the most women in the category, with Zhao nominated with Jasmila Žbanić (Quo Vadis, Aida?), Sarah Gavron (Rocks) and Shannon Murphy (Babyteeth). 

In total, Nomadland was nominated for seven BAFTA Awards, the most of the year alongside Rocks. The film about a woman who leaves her hometown of Empire, Nevada, to live a “houseless” existence and travel around the United States earned Frances McDormand a nomination for Best Actress, Zhao another nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay as well as the Cinematography, Editing, Sound and Best Film categories. 

The 74th British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best national and foreign films of the past year, were held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Check out the winners list here.