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The Power of Chinese Nature Documentaries
Text by Li Wenju Photographs courtesy of the film crew of The Power of Nature

Wang Lu, director of photography, takes photos of wild animals in the untouched district of Qiangtang. The crew of The Power of Nature works on the Great Hinggan Mountains in Heilongjiang Province. A poster of The Power of Nature.

On the final day of 2016,  the first episode of The Power of Nature, a six-episode documentary like no other China had seen in its history, was broadcast on CCTV. It achieved record ratings on New Year’s Eve despite the fact that it was competing with several popular entertainment-variety programs in the same time slot.

The production of the TV documentary took a total of five years to complete. The crew traveled hundreds of thousands of kilometers throughout China from the Greater Hinggan Mountains in the northernmost province of Heilongjiang to the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, visiting the most untouched regions of the country. More than 500 days of shooting in the wilderness reaped rewards of visual records of more than 100 rare species of plants and animals, such as Tibetan antelopes, snow leopards, wild yaks, gibbons, and Asian elephants. The documentary recounted touching stories about earth’s creatures and showcased the beauty of China in an unprecedented way.

Taking photos underwater in the Xisha Islands of the South China Sea. The Chinese crested tern, one of the most endangered species of birds on earth. A herdsman on the Sunite Grassland in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The first of its kind in China, CCTV’s documentary channel has joined hands with many of the world’s top TV documentary producers including the BBC, Discovery Channel, and NHK.

In recent years, China has seen rapid development in documentary production, a boom in the number of production companies and individual producers and a jump in the volume of documentary output. Moreover, many documentaries are getting theatrical releases, attracting great enthusiasm from viewers.

Still, China’s capacity to produce nature documentaries is comparatively weak. After watching The Power of Nature, Professor Zhang Tongdao, a well-known Chinese documentary researcher, acclaimed it as a “breakthrough for Chinese nature documentaries.”

 

 

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