Watch: Trailer for Nomadland
Chloe Zhao became the first woman of colour — and only the second woman ever — to win Best Director at the Golden Globes with her victory for Nomadland.
She is the first woman to win Best Director at the Golden Globes since Barbra Streisand won for Yentl in 1984.
Read more: Full list of Golden Globes winners
Zhao's film also won Best Motion Picture (Drama) at the awards and was the joint biggest winner on the night for movies, with Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and Soul both winning two prizes.
Nomadland stars Frances McDormand as a woman who, after losing her job as a result of the financial crisis, lives a nomadic lifestyle in a van, travelling across America.
Accepting the Best Director prize, Zhao thanked her fellow nominees for making "beautiful, beautiful movies" and quoted one of the real-life nomads, Bob Wells, who inspired her film and appears as himself in the movie.
She said: "Compassion is the breakdown of all the barriers between us — a heart-to-heart bonding. Your pain is my pain. It's mingled and shared between us.
"This is why I fell in love with making movies and telling stories, because they give us a chance to laugh and cry together.
"They give us a chance to learn from each other and to have more compassion for each other."
This year's Best Director category marked the first time more than one woman had been nominated in a single year, with Regina King (One Night in Miami) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) also on the shortlist.
The other nominees were David Fincher for Hollywood biopic Mank and Aaron Sorkin, who helmed the courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Read more: Snubs and surprises from the Golden Globes
Nomadland was nominated for four gongs in total, but Zhao was pipped to Best Screenplay by Sorkin and Andra Day's performance in The United States vs. Billie Holiday beat out McDormand in Best Actress (Drama).
The movie is currently pencilled in for a 9 April release in the UK.
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