"'The Strangeness of Coming Home' is a story of someone who learns to accept changes in life, the internal competing realities of those who experience war first-hand," Zhang explains. "I wanted to produce 'The Strangeness of Coming Home,' because it was a very personal story for the director. I was drawn to the complexity and the struggle of trying to return to a normal life as a war veteran."
Directed by Alexander Collins, The Strangeness of Coming Home stars Vince Hill-Bedford (Adopted, Sorority Slaughterhouse) who plays Aaron, a U.S. Marine returning home after battle to find that nothing is the same as he left it. Aaron's desperation to return home leaves him unprepared to handle the strain his family experienced during his deployment. The story follows him as he works to rebuild relationships and find his place at home.
In addition to earning Zhang a Best Producer Award nomination, The Strangeness of Coming Home made a splash on the international film festival circuit earning awards at the Paris Play Film Festival and the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival.
The Strangeness of Coming Home was also chosen as an Official Selection of the UK's Veteran's Film Festival, iHOLLY: The Next Generation Independent Film Festival, Bonita Springs International Film Festival, Barcelona Planet Film Festival, Roma Cinema DOC, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, Los Angeles CineFest, and more.
Zhang was a part of the team behind several other award-winning films such as A Part Apart, which took home the Best Directing, Best Cinematography and Best Actress Awards from the 2012 National Film Challenge, Wonderland, which earned the Alumni Jury Award from UCLA's MFA Director's Spotlight, Goodbye Vesna, which premiered at LA Shorts Fest and was chosen as an Official Selection of CANNES FILM FESTIVAL (Short Film Corner), the Tallgrass Film Festival and the First International Film Festival Xining, and Jared Anderson's powerful crime drama film Unremarkable starring Tara Platt (Sailor Moon Crystal, Tokyo 70), Gloria Garayua (Driving While Black, How to Get Away with Murder) and Nina Rausch (Made Men, Grey's Anatomy).
In addition to earning the award for Best Drama at the New York City Short Film Festival and being chosen as an Official Selection of the Marfa Film Festival and the ASC Heritage Awards, Unremarkable was also shortlisted for a prestigious BAFTA Award.
As an independent film producer, Zhang knows she and her team have to be lean and flexible. She explains, "We all wear a lot of hats!"
Her favorite? Finding a talented team. "Hiring crew, especially the [head of department], is the most personally fulfilling part of production for me," said Zhang. "Digging and spotting a talented cast or crew member is like finding treasure. To work with these artists and make stories that are so dynamic and meaningful, there's nothing like it."
Up next for Zhang is the series Ultimate Beastmaster, from Sylvester Stallone and The Biggest Loser's Dave Broome, which is the first-ever global on-demand competition series from Netflix.
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