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young en­tre­pre­neur he met dur­ing a visit to Antarc­tica helped him.

The film then re­ceived recog­ni­tion in theWest and even re­ceived an Emmy nom­i­na­tion for Out­stand­ing Na­ture Pro­gram­ming in July, but Xi’s strug­gle for fi­nanc­ing con­tin­ues.

“I want to make a Chi­nese ver­sion of the film, but we’re short of money… You are ask­ing about screen­ing it in the­aters in China? I don’t dare to think about it. We can­not af­ford that,” says Xi.

The­ater screen­ings typ­i­cally need a con­sid­er­able bud­get for pro­mo­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion.

But, de­spite these set­backs, there seems to be hope for the na­ture-film genre and it seems that view­ers will not be de­terred even by high prices.

At the re­cent fes­ti­val, tick­ets were priced at 119 yuan per per­son, al­most dou­ble what you would pay for a reg­u­lar film on­line. But most of the seats were sold out, ac­cord­ing to the ticket-sale agency Ge­

Mean­while, star power is used to pro­mote the fes­ti­val and to push the con­ser­va­tion mes­sage.

Hong Kong singer-ac­tress Karen Mok teamed up with top mu­sic pro­ducer Zhang Yadong to drum up pub­lic­ity for the fes­ti­val in down­town Bei­jing.

“I be­lieve to­day no one will starve if they do not eat a wild an­i­mal, and nei­ther will they freeze and die if they don’t wear an­i­mal fur,” saysMok.

The star be­gan to take part in na­ture and wildlife con­ser­va­tion cam­paigns after she read a re­port about “bile bears” — which are kept in cap­tiv­ity to har­vest their bile — more than 10 years ago.

She hopes her cam­paigns will boost pub­lic aware­ness about pro­tect­ing na­ture and wildlife, while Zhang hopes the gov­ern­ment will ex­tend even more sup­port than it does now when it comes to en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

Xu Fan

Con­tact the writer at xufan@chi­

Xi Zhi­nong, wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher

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