The critically-acclaimed movie stars Frances McDormand as a woman who goes on an adventure across America after losing her job in her small town’s economic recession.
Nomadland scooped the People’s Choice Award at the festival’s closing ceremony, and has become the first film ever to win the Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival and the top honour at TIFF.
Director Zhao accepted the award remotely and thanked the festival organisers and audiences, as she pleaded with people to go back to the cinemas.
“We can’t do this without you. Cinema is about sharing. Please, please keep going because we cannot do this without you. We’re so grateful and we hope we’ll see you all down the road,” the 38-year-old shared.
The People’s Choice Award runners-up included Regina King’s drama One Night in Miami, which tells the fictionalised story of a meeting between Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke in a Miami hotel room in 1964. Beans by Tracey Deer was the second runner-up.
According to Variety, every People’s Choice Award winner has gone on to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards.
Jojo Rabbit, which won last year’s TIFF prize, went on to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and Green Book, which won the People’s Choice Award in 2018, eventually won the coveted Academy Award.
Nomadland is set to be released on 4 December.