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"Wolf totem", by Jean-Jacques Annaud

The triumph of a French-Chinese coproduction 


Jean-Jacques Annaud's "Wolf totem" is the most significant French-Chinese coproduction ever directed. Thanks to a great success in China, this movie paves the way to more filmmaking collaborations between the two countries.  


Mostly Chinese financing 

Wolf Totem, an adventure film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, has been released in March 2015. It tells the story of a young Chinese student from Beijing sent to Mongolia in the late 60's. Intrigued by wolves, he decides to domesticate one.


Guess what the peculiarity of this French film is, apart from its 40 million dollars budget? It was financed up to 80% by... the national film society China Film Group. This is a rare equation in a country that is not used to working with occidental filmmakers.


A choice driven by the filmmaker's popularity in China

The creation of the project dates back to 2008. Chinese producers contacted Jean-Jacques Annaud to adapt Jiang Rong's best-seller "The Wolf Totem". The choice of this filmmaker is explained by his high popularity in the Chinese audience. This popularity is even more surprising in that Chinese authorities had made the filmmaker inadmissible in the country after he released "Seven years in Tibet" in 1997.

In an interview for "Challenges", Jean-Jacques Annaud said he "realised that many Chinese had understood [his] stance on Asia". "They also have been very sensitive to the bound I have with the animal world in my films, just like my depiction of open lands and my respect for minorities."


A springboard for French-Chinese cinema 

The goal of Jean-Jacques Annaud is to give another image of China and encourage future collaborations with France. According to him, "both nations have a lot to win with this bounding".

The record success of his film in China may indicate that the filmmaker's wishes have been granted: by reaching 16 million entries, "Wolf Totem" confirms that French-Chinese cinema has a bright day ahead.

To know more, check out the TV5 Monde documentary "French cinema in China" (Le cinéma français en Chine) 


Jean-Jacques Annaud's filmography:


Wolf Totem


Black Gold


His Majesty Minor


Two Brothers


Enemy at the Gates


Seven Years in Tibet


Wings of Courage (medium-length)


The Lover


The Bear


The Name of the Rose


Quest for Fire




Black and White in Color