Three Academy Awards, Including Best Picture, Go to ‘Nomadland,’ a Film Inspired by the Book by J-School Grad and Adjunct Professor Jessica Bruder.
"Nomadland," Jessica Bruder’s immersive portrait of retirement-age Americans who were squeezed out of traditional housing and took to the road to live and work from RVs, vans and cars, has gained national acclaim. On Sunday at the Los Angeles Union Train Station the film adaptation of the book won three Oscars: Best Director (Chloé Zhao), Best Actress (Frances McDormand) and Best Picture.
The author did not appear on the broadcast (only 170 people were allowed in the venue due to COVID-19 restrictions), but she watched from her L.A. hotel room as two of the real-life nomads in her book who had roles in the movie, Linda May and Charlene Swankie, shared the spotlight with movie stars, producers and directors, all gathered in a transportation hall transformed for a night of Hollywood glamour.
"They felt incredibly validated by the experience," Bruder said. "I was delighted to see them up there….I followed these women for three years, and none of us expected this would be part of their journey."
When Bruder arrived at Columbia Journalism School in 2003, she enrolled in the part-time M.S. program, not yet ready to let go of her day job as an assistant editor at a publishing house to try reporting full-time. Her first stop was in Professor Dale Maharidge’s Reporting class.
"I became a born-again journalist in that class," Bruder said.
During her program, she began working as a student stringer for the New York Times and interned in the newspaper’s Trenton bureau. Eventually she taught alongside Maharidge and then on her own. Maharidge introduced her to an editor at Harper’s Magazine, which published the article that led to the book “Nomadland.”