The Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao’s award speech was to be live-streamed by an alumnus of her alma mater, only to run into the Great Firewall of China.
The organizer could not access his VPN for about two hours, as a result of which Zhao’s award ceremony had to be missed by the attendants of the live streaming session in Shanghai.
While born and raised in China for the better part of her childhood, Zhao’s parents sent her away to England, followed by the US for pursuing further education. She did her MFA at New York University.
To commemorate her award ceremony for Nomadland, an alumnus of NYU hosted the live streaming of the event in a small bar in The Bund district in Shanghai. A group of 30 had gathered to watch the award ceremony together.
But the Chinese government may have had different plans in store.
While the attendees of the live streaming in Shanghai gathered around 8:00 am local time to watch the ceremony, the organizer, Kevin Ke, couldn’t start the streaming until 10:00 am. He said that his VPN wouldn’t simply work.
“They cut the VPN,” said Ke in an irritated tone, Reuters reported.
His WeChat account was also suspended soon after he wrote a post congratulating and praising the Oscar-winning, Chinese-born director.
In the recent past, several Chinese netizens dug up the archives and circulated an interview back from 2013 where Zhao was critical of the Chinese government. Many netizens of the country said she was insulting the country and ended up questioning her nationality altogether.
What’s more, even her movie, Nomadland, which was set to release by April 23rd in China, had been censored across Chinese social media. Chinese authorities had even gone to the extent of asking local media to refrain from broadcasting the Oscars.