Disney's latest movie, "Touch of the Panda", uses real-live pandas and a child star. It opened at Chinese mainland cinemas on Friday. Director Yu Zhong and 10-year-old Chinese-Japanese actor, Daichi Harashima attended the premiere on Wednesday.
Stand aside, Winnie the Pooh. In Disney's latest movie, pandas steal the show. Set against the spectacular scenery of Si-gu-niang Mountain, Ba-lang Mountain and Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province, the film's central character is an orphan named Lu, who finds a lost panda cub, Pang Pang. Lu carries his new friend on his back and starts a thrilling trip to return the cub to its mother.
Filming started in Wolong, a three-hour drive from Chengdu, in February 2008 and took about three months. The May 12 Sichuan earthquake last year killed panda Mao Mao, who played orphan Pang Pang's mother. Wolong itself was nearly destroyed by the quake and is still being rebuilt. All six pandas who played Pang Pang are safe and have been relocated to zoos and reserves around China. The movie is also the only complete film recording of the reserve before the earthquake.
Director Yu Zhong said, "I was sad when I edited the film because many of the beautiful places had been destroyed. Even the bridge Lu walked across in the film, and the shelter have gone. That place was called "Panda Valley", and was destroyed in the earthquake. Panda Mao Mao died as well. It is such a tragedy."