Cinema for the climate | Update : 19.07.21 . 11:57 AM

La Panthère des Neiges (The Velvet Queen), an Ode to the Beauty of the World

Picture of the movie La panthère des neiges (The velvet queen)

Picture of the movie La panthère des neiges (The velvet queen) © Vincent Munier

 

In the heart of the Tibetan Plateau, the photographer Vincent Munier brings along the writer Sylvain Tesson in his search for the snow leopard. Throughout the two months of this hypnotic journey, Marie Amiguet films the two men up close and captures these suspended moments of the celebration of the world’s beauty. A discussion between the director and the photographer on the occasion of the programming of their film La Panthère des Neiges (The Velvet Queen), presented as a Special Screening.

Vincent Munier 

This project started with a desire to connect photography, stories and still images. A rather small-scale adventure at the beginning, with the goal of creating a DVD/book, as I had acquired a substantial archive of animal photos during my six previous journeys to Tibet. I had discovered Marie Amiguet in La Vallée des loups, liked her approach, her gaze, and I wanted someone who would films us up close with Sylvain Tesson, in a way that was discreet enough to capture the most sincere emotions. I had already made documentaries earlier and I couldn’t stand the staged aspect, so we decided to shoot in the most natural way possible. Little by little, given what Marie was filming, we decided to try for a more ambitious film. Marie took charge of the editing. Two years of work to bring this film to what it is today.


Marie Amiguet

The dialogues were not written. We didn’t know Sylvain, I didn’t dare film him because I admire him a lot and was almost uncomfortable placing my camera between them. I went at their rhythm, never faster. I had a small handheld camera with a single lens… It was necessary to extract the substantive marrow from all of these spontaneous moments to say something that would fit our values, would fit with what was in our hearts. We had to sort through what pertained to adventure, philosophical reflection and what we wanted to talk about as activists. This explains why the editing was so hard, torturous even.


Vincent Munier

We are not actors and Marie managed to capture emotions, especially at the end. Nothing is overdone because, like the leopard, she managed to fit into the landscape, almost hiding herself. There was nonetheless some real tension when we’re down there with difficult conditions and we didn’t change our behaviour for the film. She was able to capture who we really are.

“Opening our eyes on simplicity, a pillar in our lives which does us good. Slowing down, taking time. We can stop on a rock, be hungry, be cold, and then suddenly something happens. It’s a gift that gives us reasons to move forward towards the future.”

Marie Amiguet
The leopard was the pretext for a journey, to show Sylvain Tesson an animal that made him dream. In exchange, Sylvain was supposed to write the captions for Vincent’s photo book. Little by little, there was this desire to bring to the fore the dialogue between the photographer and the writer. The idea wasn’t to carry out a specialised study on the leopard, the rarest animal in the world, by the photographer and the writer, it was to compare two visions that were preoccupied by the state of the planet and to strengthen each of these visions so as to make them more meaningful.

Written by Charlotte Pavard

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