Some of the country's A-list actors have lent their voices to a short film－without charging a penny－in the name of nature.
Nature Is Speaking, a seven-episode short film, has been released in China, with its Chinese voice cast featuring Jiang Wen, Ge You, Jiang Wenli, Zhou Xun, Pu Cunxin, Chen Jianbin and Tang Wei.
Produced by Conservation International, a US-based nonprofit organization, the series uses natural scenery to reveal serious concerns about the way humans are treating the planet, from the viewpoints of characters including Mother Nature, the Ocean and the Rainforest.
"The goal of Nature Is Speaking is to wake up the world, to spark a conversation about nature's essential role in our lives and, ultimately, to inspire a global shift in values and behaviors," says Peter Seligmann, founder and CEO of Conservation International.
He says the production is not another documentary bombarding the public with complicated figures.
"They (the lines in film) are just simple but powerful messages. We are not telling people to save nature. Nature is telling us: We have to save ourselves."
He does not want the film to be another production on environmental protection from the human beings' perspective, but instead, have nature speak for itself.
Lee Clow, creator of Apple's famous Think Different advertisement campaign, came up with the idea to tell the story from nature's perspective.
The original series, which was voiced by Hollywood A-list stars, including Harrison Ford, Edward Norton and Julia Roberts, was released by Conservation International in October and has attracted more than 2 billion views online.
"When we screened the original film in Hong Kong in December, we felt it had to have Chinese dubbing if we want to make an equal impact on the Chinese public," says Seligmann, explaining the reason to launch a Chinese-dubbed version of the film.
He reveals there will be Season Two.
"Nature doesn't need people. People need nature"－the line that appears at the end of every two-minute episode－is certainly poignant.
"At first glance, it's a little difficult for me to accept that hard truth," says Pu, the veteran actor who dubs the role of the Redwood.
"However, when I saw the powerful scenario and tried to find the right tone speaking for great nature, I felt the judgment was no exaggeration. Our participation in this project was like an atonement. We human beings have always strived to make better living conditions for ourselves, but at the cost of damaging nature.
Actress Jiang Wenli, who gives voice to Mother Nature, also found it was not an easy job. She says it is "the greatest role in her career".
The first episode of the Mandarin version was released via one of China's main online video platforms, iQiyi.com, on April 8. A new episode will be broadcast every week. Some lines are slightly changed from the original version to appeal to Chinese audiences.
Though the film's initiators predict the dubbed series will attract many more clicks in China than its English version in the United States, it is not expected to be broadcast on TV, because TV stations will need to cut some parts because of time limits.
Nevertheless, Pu is calling for the series to be shown in more public places, such as trains or airplanes, to reach more people.
Seligmann says his organization plans to release a smartphone app based on the film in the next few months in China.
Seligmann considers the release of the short film to be just a small step in a long-term plan to connect with China since Conservation International began its projects in the country in 2002.
Other than its early efforts on biodiversity programs, the organization has launched several major projects with a wider range in recent years.
For example, the organization has cooperated with the State Oceanic Administration to develop an ocean-health index. It has also established community-level agriculture projects in China's countryside.
"The United States was aware of environmental health issues earlier than China. But I see less political debate here than in the United States to have a clear recognition of the issues and give them top priority," Seligmann says.
I was not aware that such a thing was first created in the States. Just hearing of it now, it does sound interesting!! I mean, I'm sure it's been done before, but with today's technology, it's easier to come across.