Nomadland Frances McDormand Chloe Zhao

Nomadland, the new film from The Rider director Chloe Zhao, follows Oscar winner Frances McDormand as a woman who packs up her van and hits the road following the economic collapse of her rural Nevada company town.

“Teaser trailer” feels like the kind of descriptor best-suited for much-hyped superhero blockbusters, but it’s the description Fox Searchlight uses for the brief scene of the film released today, so who are we to argue? The scene, which you can watch here, finds Frances McDormand out wandering in an RV park where she and other nomads have found a little peace.

The film premieres Sept. 11 at the Venice International Film Festival, which describes it like this: “Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. Nomadland features real nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.”

Zhao, whose previous film The Rider also featured real people in key roles, said in her Venice director’s statement for Nomadland:

“In fall 2018, while filming Nomadland in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, near the frozen field of a beet harvest, I flipped through Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire—a book given to me by someone I met on the road. I came upon this quote: ‘Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear—the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break… I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.’ For the next four months, nomads came and went as we traveled and filmed—many kept rocks from their wanderings, their home on wheels powered by the sun. They left stories and wisdom in front and behind the camera. Having grown up in the cities of China and England, I’ve always been deeply drawn to the open road—an idea I find to be quintessentially American—the endless search for what’s beyond the horizon. I tried to capture a glimpse of it in this movie, knowing it’s not possible to truly describe the American road to another person. One has to discover it on one’s own.”

By the way, about much-hyped superhero blockbusters? Zhao’s next film is Marvel’s The Eternals, starring Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden and more.

Nomadland will be released in December.