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Discovery prepares series on Nanjing

Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific plans to air five documentaries about Nanjing, the capital city of Jiangsu Province, in September.

The five works will be filmed by young directors selected from Discovery’s first-time filmmakers initiative titled “Nanjing Calling,” which began in December. Five finalists were selected out of more than 100 applicants on Monday.

Over the next four months, each director will work on their individual 30-minute documentary with support and guidance from experienced Discovery Channel producers. They will also complete post-production work with Beach House Pictures in Singapore.

The network will provide approximately US$10,000 to each filmmaker.

The topics of the documentaries cover cuisine, the city wall, an artifacts collector, downhill bikers and a fashion designer.

“It’s a set of films under the umbrella of Nanjing Calling. Hence we need the five films to speak as one voice, and bring an amazing anticipation on our channel when we broadcast it,” said Vikram Channa, Discovery’s vice president of production and development.

Yan Xian, one of the five finalists, will tell the story of Lao Wan, a young man in Nanjing who collects old things. Lao has a good reputation as being generous for the items he purchases. Yet he struggles to continue adding to the collection due to a lack of funds.

“Nanjing is an ancient city that served as the capital of China many times. It’s important to have one film to allow us to get that aspect about Nanjing,” Channa said.

“But we don’t want to do it in a traditional linear way. We want a twist ... Our thought was perhaps through the artifacts he collects, we may be able to tell interesting stories about Nanjing.

“We were brainstorming whether we should call the film ‘Memento Man’.”

Yan said he is excited about working with Discovery.

“There’s nothing to compare the way documentaries are made in China and the way Discovery does,” Yan said. “Their approach and way of telling stories is unique and inspiring.”

It’s the first time Discovery will make documentaries themed on a single city.

It’s China-related programs in the past have been about macro topics, said Fang Zhang, senior vice president and general manager, China, Discovery Networks Asia Pacific.


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