Wild epic 'Wolf Totem' has Oscar ambitions

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, August 30, 2014
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The ambitious epic "Wolf Totem" has big potential to win the best foreign film Oscar, the China Film Group (CFG) chairman said Friday in Beijing.

The ambitious epic 'Wolf Totem' has big potential to win the best foreign film Oscar

A press conference attended by French director Jean-Jacques Annaud and several other Chinese film industry dignitaries was held in Beijing yesterday to promote the film. The first trailer, posters and production footage were shown to the press.

According to Annaud, 99.5 percent of the film's scenes were shot on location. He has made the final cut of the film, which is currently in the scoring phase of post-production. The legendary James Horner ("Braveheart," "Titanic") is on board to compose music for "Wolf Totem."

La Peikang, the Chairman of China's Film Bureau, which is part of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said he has watched the final cut and is confident in this film, which first entered development 10 years ago. La said the unprecedented film respects both the original novel and the market.

"I feel proud, so proud for the film. I was thrilled when I finished watching it in advance," La said. Though it is still not known when the film will hit worldwide screens, La said they are planning for either a 2015 New Year season or a 2015 Spring Festival film season release.

With its amazing portrayal of wolves, the Chinese novel Wolf Totem, written by Jiang Rong and published in 2004, ranked among the top 10 best-selling books for nearly six years and sold 6 million copies. The book also has international appeal, as it was translated into over 30 languages and has been sold in more than 100 countries.

Academy Award winning director, Jean-Jacques Annaud, famous for his movies "The Bear" (1988) and "L'amant" (1992), has been preparing to bring this marvelous story to the big screen for seven years and began filming it in July 2012. Chinese actors Feng Shaofeng and Dou Xiao star in the film, which portrays the story of the relationship between people and a wolf pack in Inner Mongolia.

The director and his team had to overcome harsh difficulties in the wild, such as low temperatures, extremely bad weather, mosquito swarms and safety problems when dealing with wolves, which still have a wild nature. They built long double fences to keep the 35 wolves from three generations under control. To train the wild animals not to avoid the camera, they even raised young wolves with which they knew they could build an emotional relationship. Annaud insisted on using real wolves, so the production studio built four bases in Beijing and Inner Mongolia to raise and train wolves.

Annaud said yesterday that "Wolf Totem" is consistent with his previous works: it will be touching, it will be about the harmony between humans and nature, and it will be epic.

La said "Wolf Totem" will probably be a contender for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film after its release, as China is considering submitting the film for the award. Because the film is a China-France coproduction, France also can submit it for the foreign language film award as a French movie.

Jean-Jacques Annaud previously won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for "Black and White in Color"(1976).

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