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The Ojai Film Festival

The Ojai Film Festival is dedicated to supporting the art of the motion picture through the presentation of an annual multi-day festival in which films submitted by filmmakers throughout the world are publicly exhibited at several venues in and around the City of Ojai, California.

The Ojai Film Festival fulfills its goal of serving the art of film:

  • by providing filmmakers, many of them beginning their careers, with a supportive and enthusiastic audience for their creative efforts and giving them access to film industry professionals who offer guidance and other forms of career assistance.
  • by bringing to its audience of both local residents and visitors from all over southern California, a wide array of distinguished motion pictures otherwise inaccessible to them.

Learn more about the festival at:


An Evening with Chloé Zhao

Ojai resident Chloé Zhao wrote and directed “Nomadland,” Best Picture winner at the 2020 Academy Awards. She makes a special appearance at the 2021 Ojai Film Festival on Saturday, November 13 at 7 pm. A screening of her 2017 film “The Rider” precedes a Q&A with Zhao, followed by a reception, all at the Ojai Art Center.

Growing up in Beijing Zhao felt drawn to influences from Western pop culture. She attended a boarding school in London before moving to Los Angeles to finish high school. She worked odd jobs as a party promoter, in real estate, and bartending before studying film production at New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

In 2010, Zhao’s short film “Daughters” premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and won Best Student Live Action Short at the 2010 Palm Springs International ShortFest and Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Cinequest Film Festival.

Zhao directed her first feature film in 2015, “Songs My Brothers Taught Me,” which premiered as part of the US Dramatic Competition at Sundance Film Festival. It later played at Cannes Film Festival as part of the Director’s Fortnight selection.

Next Zhao wrote, produced, and directed “The Rider,” an American contemporary western drama shot in the Badlands of South Dakota. The film won the Art Cinema Award at the Cannes Film Festival and received Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Film and Best Director. Rotten Tomatoes wrote: “[The film’s] hard-hitting drama is only made more effective through writer-director Chloé Zhao’s use of untrained actors to tell the movie’s fact-based tale.”

“The Rider” follows a young cowboy’s journey of self-discovery after a near-fatal accident ends his professional bronc riding career. Zhao engaged a cast of non-actors who lived on the ranch where she shot the film. Her inspiration came from a cowboy she befriended on the reservation where she filmed “Songs My Brothers Taught Me.”

Seating is limited for this special screening of “The Rider” with Academy Award-winning writer, director Chloé Zhao in attendance. Tickets are $30.

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