When the housing bubble burst in 2008 and America plunged into what we now call the Great Recession, thousands lost their jobs, their homes and their livelihoods.
Likely few places in the country felt the impact more than the small mining town of Empire, Nevada, near the Black Rock Desert where Burning Man is held each year. It was for years a company town for the United States Gypsum Corporation, but in 2011 the company shut down its mine amid the Recession and its residents all but abandoned their lives there. Some were able to move to new cities and set down roots, but for others, particularly older Americans, it was an opportunity to live a lifestyle they’d never imagined -- one of a modern day “nomad” by choice, exploring the American west and drifting from town to town with their campers and RVs in tow looking for jobs.
Chloe Zhao’s upcoming film “Nomadland,” based on the 2017 book by journalist Jessica Bruder, explores this phenomenon through the eyes of Fern (Frances McDormand), a sixty-something woman who loses her job at the gypsum mine in Empire and hits the road in search of part-time work. What she finds along the way is a life she never imagined filled with drifters and nomads who, like her, chose a life on the road, and are kind enough to help a newly-minted “nomad” find her place in their world.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll hear from some of the folks involved with the making of “Nomadland,” including some of the real-life “nomads” on which the film is based, about what it was like to turn this real life story into a movie for the big screen.
With guest host John Horn
Frances McDormand, Oscar-winning actress and producer, and star of “Nomadland”
Charlene Swankie, “Nomadland” cast member and one of the real-life “nomads” on which the film is based
Derek Endres, “Nomadland” cast member and one of the real-life “nomads” on which the film is based