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Nomadland cinematographer calls out Quentin Tarantino for criticizing digital cinema

Frances McDormand in Nomadland
(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

The cinematographer who worked on awards season favorite Nomadland has some strong words for Quentin Tarantino and his dismissal of digital cinema. Like director Chloé Zhao's previous movies, Nomadland was shot on a low budget with mostly non-professional actors. Filming in 35mm was out of the question.

"Tarantino says digital is the death of cinema. Fuck you, man," Joshua James Richards said in a recent interview with The New Yorker. "Chloé could get no backing, because she’s a Chinese woman. With digital, we could make our own movies for a hundred thousand dollars at the level they could be shown as cinema."

The comments Richards refers to were made by Tarantino at a press conference at Cannes in 2014, when Pulp Fiction was the only movie at the festival to be screened in 35mm. "As far as I’m concerned, digital projection is the death of cinema," he said. "The fact that most films aren’t presented in 35mm means that the world is lost. Digital projection is just television in cinema.”

Richards began collaborating with Zhao on her debut feature, Songs My Brother Taught Me, which he submitted as his thesis at NYU. He also shot her last feature, The Rider, which was released in 2018 and caught the attention of Nomadland star Frances McDormand when it screened at Cannes and motivated the actor to reach out to work with Zhao.

Nomadland won two awards at this year's Golden Globes including Best Director, making Zhao the first Asian woman and the second woman ever to win. For more on the awards ceremony, check out the Golden Globes winners list in full.