Electric Shadows: Leicester Chinese Film Festival 2023 closed on 3 December with the UK Premiere of wildlife documentary Snow Leopards and Friends.

Returning for the 2nd edition, the De Montfort University, Leicester led festival named ‘Electric Shadows’ included a screening programme of the latest films from Greater China at Showcase Cinema in Leicester.

In addition, it also hosted a programme of events, including free Mandarin lessons, heritage performances, Tai-Chi lessons, and an industry networking event at the Phoenix, a local independent cinema.

Directed by XI Zhinong, the latest award-winning documentary Snow Leopards and Friends was selected to be the Closing Film of the festival. A UK Premiere or perhaps, even an International Premiere, this is the first time that the feature cut is shown as a cinema outside of China. The screening attracted a full house of almost 100 audience on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Among them, there were families from the local community Woodcraft Folk, where children were very brave to watch a documentary in Chinese for the first time in their life. Though, wildlife is not a new topic to the young audience where they have already been raised with an interest in the nature and wildlife.

About the documentary

It’s midwinter in the Qinghai Plateau, five kilometers up. This is the home of the snow leopard, the spirit of the Himalayas. Three young yak herders hope to supplement their income by capturing this elusive and majestic creature–on film. Spectacular wildlife (besides snow leopards, bears, wolves, and Bharal sheep are seen), and the stunning backdrop is the setting for a moving story about nature, motherhood, and the fragility of life.

Q&A with co-filmmaker and editor Mark Fletcher

We were honoured to be able to invite Mark Fletcher, who is the co-filmmaker and editor for Snow Leopards and Friends to attend the closing film screening.

Mark is a zoologist and wildlife documentary editor, sometimes writer, sometimes director. His great-grandfather was eaten by a wild lion in Africa. Mark, also an animal lover, was a child puppeteer, with over a thousand live performances across the UK. Then a degree in animal cognition and behaviour.

His credits also include BBC Natural World producer/writer/editor: Andes, Penguins of Antarctic, The Turtle’s Guide to the Pacific, Bears of Top of the World, Clever Monkeys, Secret Leopard, Bringing up Baby, Himalayas, Animal House, The Mating Game/Love in the Animal Kingdom. Most written for David Attenborough.

Mark has cut over 200 films, and they have won around 50 Emmys, Ace and Peabody awards, 20 Pandas and Tetons, and many other prizes. Mark is known for working with young filmmakers and production companies, including supporting diverse and globally local productions and filmmakers. Mark has edited for cinema, IMAX and 3D, VR and in 3D, and many theatrical releases and commercial ‘specials’: the BBC Frozen Planet Concert series, including two nights in the Hollywood Bowl. Also several BBC 1 Christmas Specials.

MFP is a post production specialist in an international field. Mark is at heart an editor. He has given editing and writing master classes at Jackson Hole and Wildscreen and given post-grad master classes in storytelling at the National Film and Television School. He has been a cinematography judge, writing judge, music, and editing judge in festivals. He has a cutting room in Wiltshire but works from anywhere. He is a survivor of a major earthquake and a minor tsunami.

Mark was nominated for the best editor, best director and best film at Wildscreen 2022 for Patrick and the Whale (2022).

About the Director Xi Zhinong

Xi Zhinong is a wildlife photographer and founder of Wild China Film, an organization devoted to promoting conservation through photo and film documentation of China’s wildlife and natural environment.

Xi Zhinong’s past projects include the 1992 “Golden Monkey Research Project” at Baima Snow Mountain in Yunnan, which received funding from the World Wide Fund for Nature, followed by the 1995 Yunnan golden monkey work “Mother and Child” which appeared in Newsweek, Time Magazine, BBC Wildlife and National Geographic. In 2002, Xi Zhinong produced the documentary “The Mysterious Golden Monkey”, a project 10-years in the making. The film was awarded the “Green Oscar” at the Nature Screen Film Festival in the U.K., making it the first Chinese wildlife documentary to win an international award. The success of the film was an important driver in the establishment of China’s first private nature center, Cangshan Nature Center, which opened in 2009.