Nomadland: Surviving America In the Twenty First Century
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FEATURING JESSICA BRUDER – Sunday night’s Golden Globes awards ceremony featured a big win for filmmaker Chloe Zhao who won Best Director and whose film Nomadland won Best Picture in the Drama category. The film is a sparsely shot and artistically fictionalized feature based on a non-fiction book of the same name by writer Jessica Bruder. There is already plenty of Oscar buzz around the film.
Nomadland, the book, shines a light on a little-known but growing trend in the US labor force: workampers, who are mostly American retirees who find they cannot make ends meet and pay their rent or mortgages on their Social Security and pension checks, so they live life on the road in RVs and campers, driving to where the work is and camping overnight in parking lots and campgrounds.
But Nomadland, the film, focuses on two characters, both of whom have excellent options for living comfortable middle-class lives in homes offered by close relatives. One of the characters takes the option and the other does not, giving the impression that nomadic existence is a personal choice made by retired workers rather than a social symptom of our race-to-the-bottom economy. While the book is an indictment of Amazon’s impact on the economy, the film barely features the retailer and when it does, it does so in a positive light. Today we’ll re-air our interview with writer Jessica Bruder about her book Nomadland.
Jessica Bruder, award winning journalist whose work focuses on subcultures and the dark corners of the economy. She teaches at Columbia School of Journalism. Her books include Burning Book: A Visual History of Burning Man and Nomadland: Surviving America In the Twenty First Century. Bruder is also a producer on the film of the same name as her book.