While in San Francisco on a press trip two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being able to screen the newest DisneyNature film, Born in China. We are talking pandas, snow leopards, monkeys…this newest Disneynature film is a must-see for animal lovers in general, but especially for those in love with the exotic creatures of China!
Everyone who buys tickets to see Disneynature’s Born in China during its opening week – April 21-27, 2017 – will benefit the World Wildlife Fund because a portion of the proceeds of ticket sales are donated. Disneynature does this EVERY YEAR! Through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, contributions will be made to the WWF to help protect wild pandas and snow leopards in China.
Narrated by John Krasinski, Disneynature’s Born In China takes an epic journey into the wilds of China. Following the stories of three animal families, the film transports audiences to some of the most extreme environments on Earth to witness some of the most intimate moments ever captured in a nature film. 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.
A mother snow leopard – an elusive animal rarely caught on camera – faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on the planet. As soon as I saw that snow leopard, one of the animals I find so interesting because I know so little about them, I knew that I would love this movie – and I was correct in that assumption!
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.
Opening in U.S. theaters on Earth Day 2017, 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.
Now, I am partial to Snow Leopards, but all of the animals in Born in China were adorable and the story lines were so interesting. One of the things I really love about the Disneynature films is that there is actually a STORY. It takes extremely dedicated and talented movie makers to be able to sit for months on end, filming and waiting for the perfect shots, and to be able to figure out who is who and what they’re doing. You can’t script nature!
Fun Facts About Disneynature’s Born in China
Born in China is the seventh theatrical release for Disneynature, the first new Disney-branded film label from The Walt Disney Studios in more than 60 years. The label was launched in April 2008 to bring the world’s top nature filmmakers together to capture a variety of wildlife subjects and stories.
The first six big-screen releases under the Disneynature label—“Earth,” “Oceans,” “African Cats,” “Bears,” “Monkey Kingdom” and “Chimpanzee”—are among the top seven highest grossing feature-length nature films of all time.
Walt Disney was a pioneer in wildlife documentary filmmaking, producing 13 True Life Adventure motion pictures between 1948 and 1960, including “Seal Island” (1948), “Beaver Valley” (1950), “The Living Desert” (1953) and “Jungle Cat” (1958). The films earned eight Academy Awards®.
We began with YaYa and her newborn baby MeiMei, which…hello, cute, adorable panda bears!!!! They were filmed in Sichuan Wolong Nature Reserve, located in Central China in the Sichuan province. It’s the classic story of a mom watching her little baby develop and grow…but with a ton of cute fur involved. We were told that the filmmakers actually wore panda suits while filming in order to not frighten the pandas while filming. HA HA!
Next we moved onto the mountain valleys of central China, by the Yangtze River in the Shennongjia Forest, to check out a community of Golden Snub-Nosed Monkeys. They were so cute! We focused on a little boy monkey named TaoTao and his family, along with a group of hellions called The Lost Boys.
This story was a little sad because it’s always a little sad watching someone become an outsider, but it ended wonderfully! We watched at TaoTao dealth with the struggle of a new little sister coming into the family and being slowly pushed outside of the “favorite” role in his family. I think we can all relate to that in some way or another.
TaoTao starts hanging with the “outsiders” once his family kind of snubs him for his new little sister…I don’t want to tell you exactly what happens, but let’s just say that out of every story in Born in China, this one resonates most on a human level because we’ve all been there!
Then we have the story of the migrating Chiru, a cool deer-looking animal that lives in the uplands of the Qinghai Plateau.
In the spring, the female Chiru leave their mates and journey to Zhouonai Laketo have their babies! You’ll see them with their little babies, it seems that the ladies are all on the same cycle because they’re literally all giving birth together. The baby Chiru are basically born knowing how to walk, we watched as the babies would pop out and already struggle to get to their feet!
I didn’t realize this until after seeing the movie, but there are less than 75,000 Chiru in existence, as they are a species susceptible to poaching. The director Lu Chuan made a film called Mountain Patrol in 2004 about a Tibetan mountain patrol team who protect Chiru from poachers.
My favorite part of the film was the portion about the snow leopard family, Dawa and her cubs. Snow leopards live in China’s Qinghai Plateau, the highest mountain plateau on Earth. THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN ON EARTH.
Let that sink in.
I have been fascinated with snow leopards ever since the first time I heard about them, because they are incredibly hard to find in the wild and their lives are one of constant sorrow due to lack of food where they live. I always cry when I watch things about snow leopards. Le sigh.
GO SEE BORN IN CHINA ON APRIL 21!!! It opens in theaters nationwide!
Disneynature was launched in April 2008. Its mission is to bring the world’s top nature filmmakers together to share a wide variety of wildlife stories on the big screen in order to engage, inspire and educate theatrical audiences everywhere. Walt Disney was a pioneer in wildlife filmmaking, producing 13 True-Life Adventure motion pictures between 1948 and 1960, which earned eight Academy Awards®. The first six Disneynature films, “Earth,” “Oceans,” “African Cats,” “Chimpanzee,” “Bears” and “Monkey Kingdom” are six of the top seven highest overall grossing feature-length nature films to date, with “Chimpanzee” garnering a record-breaking opening weekend for the genre. Disneynature’s commitment to conservation is a key pillar of the label and the films empower the audience to help make a difference. Through donations tied to opening-week attendance for all six films, Disneynature, through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, has contributed to a host of conservation initiatives. Efforts include planting three million trees in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, established 40,000 acres of marine protected area in The Bahamas, protected 65,000 acres of savanna in Kenya, protected nearly 130,000 acres of wild chimpanzee habitat, cared for chimpanzees and educated 60,000 school children about chimpanzee conservation in the Congo. Additionally, efforts have funded research and restoration grants in U.S. National Parks, supporting conservation projects spanning 400,000 acres of parkland and protecting 75 species of animals and plants, and helped protect monkeys and other endangered species in their natural habitats across Indonesia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.