Vegan documentary “The Game Changers” is now available in China on video streaming platform Youku.
The film, directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Louie Psihoyos (“The Cove” (2009)) stars former UFC fighter James Wilks as he explores the benefits of a plant-based diet for athletes. It does this by featuring some of the world’s top athletes who have cut animal products out of their diet, including six-time Formula One racing champion Lewis Hamilton, ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, and Olympic silver medal cyclist Dotsie Bausch.
“The Game Changers” was executive produced by high-profile names including “Avatar” (2009) director James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and martial arts film star Jackie Chan.
According to Wilks, Chan played an important role in bringing the film to the Chinese market. They chose Youku as the platform due to its large viewership and younger, sports-oriented audience. Minimal changes—Chinese subtitles and including the documentary’s Chinese website at the end—were required by the country’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television.
However, not everything went smoothly.
“Our original hopes for promoting ‘The Game Changers’ in China included a star-studded red-carpet premiere in Beijing,” Wilks told the South China Morning Press. “But the coronavirus pandemic made that impossible and also set back the release of the film on Youku.”
So far, the film has been well-received in China. Wilks believes this is because “The Game Changers” encourages people to eat more plants, rather than stop eating meat altogether.
“We don’t believe we have the right to tell people what they should eat, and our philosophy isn’t ‘all or nothing’, it’s ‘all or something’,” he said.
Wilks hopes that the film will encourage those living in urban areas to “avoid the pitfalls of a Western animal-based diet” and return to a “more traditional Chinese diet, where healthy plant foods make up the majority of each meal. In short: eat more plants!”
Meat and COVID-19
“The Game Changers” has also prompted questions about the role of eating animals in the coronavirus pandemic.
“We believe that the exact origins of the coronavirus remain unknown, and that the more important question should be which type of farming tends to be the safest: animal or plant?” said Wilks.
Experts believe that the virus originated from a seafood and live animal market in the city of Wuhan. Seventy-five percent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.