We are excited to announce Disneynature’s "BORN IN CHINA" opens in theatres everywhere this Friday. One of our favorite parts about this film is moviegoers who see Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure film "BORN IN CHINA" during its opening week (April 21-27, 2017) will benefit the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Based on opening-week attendance, Disneynature, via the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, will make a contribution to the WWF to help protect wild pandas and snow leopards in China.
“From this magnificent landscape are born countless lives, each of them part of a much larger story—an all-encompassing circle of life that is fueled by the love, the losses and the hopes of many different creatures.” ~ “Born in China” Narrated by John Krasinski (“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” NBC’s “The Office,” “Amazon’s “Jack Ryan”), Disneynature's new True Life Adventure film “Born In China” takes audiences on an epic journey into the wilds of China where few people have ever ventured. Following the stories of three animal families, the film transports audiences to some of the world’s most extreme environments to witness wildly intimate moments in the lives of these animals.
A doting panda bear mother guides her growing baby as she begins to explore and seek independence. A two-year-old golden monkey, who feels displaced by his new baby sister, joins up with a group of free-spirited outcasts. And a mother snow leopard—an elusive animal rarely seen by human eyes— faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on Earth.
Featuring stunning, never-before-seen imagery, the film navigates China’s vast terrain—from the frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest—on the wings of red-crowned cranes, seamlessly tying the extraordinary tales together.
“Born in China” is directed by accomplished Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan, and produced by Disney’s Roy Conli and renowned nature filmmakers Brian Leith and Phil Chapman.
Disneynature’s filmmakers have ventured around the world—from African savannas to Alaskan coastlines, from the depths of the ocean to majestic mountaintops—but until now, Disneynature had not yet explored China. “Most people will never have the opportunity to experience this wild, mysterious and beautiful side of China in person,” says Alan Bergman, president, The Walt Disney Studios. “Disneynature’s ‘Born in China’ transports audiences to the country’s remote and spectacular landscapes to gain a new perspective on some truly compelling creatures.”
China’s unique way of looking at nature is central to the story of “Born in China.” “It is a story of life and death,” says director Lu Chuan. “In China, death is not the end of life. It’s another beginning. Wildlife has many beginnings, and we wanted to explore that in the movie. I want to help audiences around the world better understand this philosophy.”
Lu Chuan, who became a father during the production of the movie, is an accomplished filmmaker. His directorial debut was 2002’s “The Missing Gun,” which was presented at Cannes, Venice and Sundance film festivals. He received worldwide acclaim for 2004’s “Mountain Patrol,” the story of the heroic Tibetans who fought to protect chiru from poachers. The multiple award-winning film received the special jury prize from the Tokyo International Film Festival, and received best picture and best cinematography at the Golden Horse Awards.
In 2009, “City of Life and Death” won best director and best cinematographer at the Asian Film Awards, among many accolades. Lu Chuan continued his success in 2012 with “The Last Supper,” and with his most recent release, “Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe.”
According to Lu Chuan, directing a movie like “Born in China” initially called for a different approach. “For a feature film, you use your imagination and create everything from a blank page,” he says. “Disneynature films are character-driven stories, but the characters are the animals. So the story comes from the footage and is inspired by the lives these animals lead.”
Lu Chuan’s extraordinary filmmaking sensibilities and Chinese point of view are complemented by the storytelling prowess of Disney Animation’s Roy Conli and the nature filmmaking expertise of producers Brian Leith and Phil Chapman. Conli, who produced Disney’s 50th animated film “Tangled” and 2014’s Oscar®-winning animated feature “Big Hero 6,” serves as producer for “Born in China.”
“It is terrific to be exploring new boundaries with Disneynature,” he says. “I am honored to be part of such an incredibly talented international team of filmmakers carrying on a legacy that dates back to Walt Disney himself and his True Life Adventures created more than 60 years ago. These films are driven by actual events and observations from the field by some of the world’s greatest natural history cinematographers.
Working with Lu Chuan, one of the most talented directors and storytellers in cinema today, has been a dream. What we have crafted is both epic and intimate. The balance of humor, heart and adventure is truly stunning. What a great gift to share with audiences around the world.”
Premiere nature filmmakers Brian Leith and Phil Chapman complete the perfect triad required of a movie like “Born in China.” Based in Bristol, U.K., Brian Leith Productions is behind award-winning productions broadcast on BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, Nat Geo and Animal Planet, among others. Their productions have documented the lives of animals ranging from killer whales in the Canadian Arctic to hippos in Africa, but it’s their work on the BBC Natural History Unit’s six-part nature documentary series “Wild China” that made them a natural fit for the Disneynature project.
“We were fascinated by these vast areas of wilderness in a country known more for the number of people who live there,” says Leith. “There is a surprising amount of wilderness. Once you get off the main roads, there are vast forests, incredibly huge deserts and plateaus of mountain ranges.”
The film explores different areas of China, capturing enchanting pandas in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in the Si Chuan province, golden snub-nosed monkeys in the Hubei Shennongjia National Nature Reserve in the middle of the Yangtze River, and the elusive snow leopards in the Qinghai Province, Yushu County, which is on the northeast rim of the Tibetan plateau—5,000 meters above sea level. The film also features the rarely filmed chiru, located in the Kekexili National Nature Reserve, and the revered redcrowned crane, filmed in the Heilongjiang Zhanglong National Nature Reserve and the Jiangsu Yancheng National Nature Reserve for Coastal Rare Birds. “These are animals that, for the most part, could only be filmed in China,” says Chapman.
“To make a drama like ‘Born in China,’ we needed a much more intimate connection with lots of detail in order to build the story. That can get really difficult, capturing that level of footage, particularly with some of these animals who’ve never set eyes on a human being before. We weren’t sure it was even possible.
“We shot so much footage,” continues Chapman. “I’ve never worked on a project that had such an extreme shooting ratio. But as we sat and went through the rushes, watching and cataloging everything, these dramatic and touching stories began to emerge.” Says Lu Chuan, “The footage was just great. I realized a nature movie is not so different from a feature film. I wanted to make a special movie—not just for audiences, but also for myself. I wanted to show how these animals are metaphors. They give birth, like we do. They do their best to raise their cubs, like we do. They succeed and they fail. And when they fail, consequences can be dire. Their drive to do what is best for their families resonates with all of us.”
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