The current state of the world suggests we’d be ill advised to watch a documentary about the loss of yet another majestic animal to extinction. The Velvet Queen, or La Panthère des Neiges, as it’s called in its country of origin, France, is absolutely nothing like that. This documentary is really a celebration of the grandeur and beauty of Tibet and all its creatures, but especially the rare, elusive, beautiful beast, the snow leopard. It makes for joyful and meditative viewing, which for some will be exactly what is needed at this reflective time of the year.

The project is a partnership between writer/directors Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier, and novelist and adventurer Sylvain Tesson. Renowned nature photographer Munier enlisted Tesson to travel with him though Tibet and share the experience of working to capture one of the holy grails of nature images, that of the rarely-seen or photographed leopard. Amiguet had come to Munier’s attention through her work lensing the documentary La Vallée des Loups, about one man’s three-year odyssey trekking wolves in the French Alps. It was up to Amiguet, in her directorial debut, to film the two men without interaction, and without interfering or guiding conversation.

In terms of humans on this journey, there could be no better central figures than Vincent Munier and Sylvain Tesson. Munier has photographed wildlife all over the world, and is the first to have been awarded the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year ‘Erik Hosking Award’ three times in a row. He founded a publishing house to release his own photography books in 2010. He has been perfecting the art of the blind, hiding more or less in plain sight to see and photograph animals in their own habitat, for years. For his part, Tesson rode across Iceland on a motorcycle, across Central Asia on horseback, and walked across the Himalayas on foot. These adventures have led to a series of award-winning books. As Munier explains to Tesson where and how to observe for hours in the inhospitable Tibetan weather, they may keep it to a whisper, but their verbal exchanges, however short, are always deep and philosophical.

To read the review in its entirety, go to HERE.