Locals throng towns and tourist attractions featured in Nomadland


By AGENCY

The Badlands National Park in South Dakota is featured in the movie Nomadland. — RJA1988/Pixabay

Nomadland was partly filmed in the Western town of Quartzsite in Arizona, the United States, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture this year, but it’s still unclear if that will translate into more tourists for the place.

Regardless, Phil Bates, owner of a shop called Main Trading Post, told the Arizona Republic that he plans to be ready to sell Nomadland-related T-shirts and souvenirs to any of the newly curious tourists who decide to make a pit stop in the small Arizona town near the California border.

“I saw that it won, ” he said. “It was like, son of a gun, that movie really took off.”

Frances McDormand won the best actress award for her portrayal in Nomadland of Fern, a widow who moves from a company town once the company has closed.

She turns her van into her house and begins her nomadic life in Quartzsite.

The filming of the movie in late 2018 did not seem to draw much attention from residents or disrupt daily activities, according to the Arizona Republic. The newspaper reported that most of McDormand’s scenes were filmed where the nomadic travellers camp in the desert.

The town proper lies north of the freeway, though two Quartzsite businesses are shown in the film.

In one scene, McDormand dances with co-star David Strathairn inside the Quartzsite Yacht Club, a bar and grill on Main Street that features live music.

But those wanting to visit the Quartzsite Yacht Club have to wait until at least October. The bar closed for the season in February because of staffing issues, according to its Facebook page.

MeMe Selleck, the Yacht Club’s owner since 2015, said the bar will reopen in October along with what she anticipates will be Nomadland merchandise for sale.

She no doubt will sell more memberships to the Quartzsite Yacht Club.

Donald Miller, who sings his Quartzsite Vendor Blues in the film, will be back at the club.

“With the movie and the big hype, I’ve been getting a lot of messages, ” Selleck said. “I think it will be a positive for everybody in this town.”

In the movie, McDormand also takes in a performance by Paul Winer, who plays a melancholy boogie-woogie piano song in tribute to dead friends.

That piano sits in a small music hall adjoining the Reader’s Oasis bookstore.

A location scout for the film heard Winer playing and sent a video to the film’s director, Chloé Zhao, who decided to include him in the film, said Joanne Winer, Paul’s wife.

In the scene, Winer offers a musical toast to, as he sings it, “the friends who had to depart. The friends in our heart”, concluding, “Help me smile away the tears”.

Winer died in November at 75 after an illness that started to hit him around the time of filming, Joanne said.

Winer didn’t get to see himself in the movie, but he figured he would make the final cut after he received a check for US$1,000 (RM4,119), Joanne said. She also received an advance royalty check of another US$1,000 as Winer’s song, Next To The Track Blues, was put on the film’s soundtrack.

Joanne said she’s hoping for a Nomadland bump in business.

She said that with the pandemic keeping away tourists this winter, particularly Canadians, her business is off 80% compared to last year. – APSouth Dakota sees tourism spikeTOURIST attractions in South Dakota in the United States that appeared in Nomadland are seeing an increase in visitors.

Reptile Gardens animal park and Wall Drug Store, a sprawling, cowboy-themed roadside attraction, are both reporting an early bump in tourist traffic, the Rapid City Journal reported. Both were in Nomadland.

The movie follows Fern, a 60-year old widow living in her van and taking odd jobs as she meanders the American West. Badlands National Park, Wall Drug and Reptile Gardens are among the places featured.

Wall Drug Store has seen a 114% increase in sales over 2019 while year-to-date for 2020 showed a 92% increase, said its chairman Rick Hustead.

“If it was up 10% we’d be happy, but these are extraordinary numbers, ” he said.

“I think we’re going into a huge season.”

Hustead said the family was approached in 2018 for the movie.

“It was amazing, ” he said.

Reptile Gardens curator Terry Phillip said he spent an entire day filming with the crew. He believes the film will boost tourism for the whole state.

“You can’t go wrong with that in any way, shape or form, ” he said.

The South Dakota Tourism Department also anticipates a large number of visitors.

“Overall, what you’ll find is we certainly noticed that film drives a great amount of inspiration for consumers, ” said Katlyn Svendsen, global media and public relations director for the department. – AP

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