She was born in Taiyuan, Shanxi, which is also the hometown of the heroine in Still Life. As a child, she studied classical Chinese dance. In 1996, she enrolled in the folk dance department at Beijing Dance Academy. After graduation, she became a dance teacher in Taiyuan Normal College, where she was spotted by Jia during casting for Platform. Since then they work frequently together.
In 2011 she starred in the Italian movie Shun Li and the Poet by Andrea Segre, the movie was screened in the Venice Days section of the 68th Venice International Film Festival. Zhao won the David di Donatello Award, the Italian Oscar, for Best Actress for her bilingual role.
On January 7, 2012 she married director Jia Zhangke.
|Year||English Title||Chinese Title||Role||Notes|
|2002||Unknown Pleasures||任逍遥||Qiao Qiao||Lead|
|2006||Still Life||三峡好人||Shen Hong||Lead|
|2007||Our Ten Years||Women 德石年||-||Lead|
|2008||24 City||二十四城记||Su Na||Ensemble|
|2008||Cry Me a River||河上的愛情||Zhou Qi||Lead|
|2010||Ten Thousand Waves||-||Blue Goddess||Ensemble|
|2011||Shun Li and the Poet||-||Shun Li||Lead|
- "Constant Muse: Jia Zhangke's leading lady Zhao Tao". China Film Journal. 24 March 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2008.
- "5 September". La Biennale di venezia. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Zhao Tao.|
- Conversation with Zhao Tao and Jia Zhangke at Asia Society
- Zhao Tao at the Internet Movie Database
- "Zhao Tao: Step on the Bright Road to Cannes"
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