The Quebec-wide release of Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier’s documentary The Velvet Queen has been announced. Launched in official selection out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021, this feature film is written by Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier who directed it with a commentary by Sylvain Tesson. The original music is a composition by Warren Ellis.
In the heart of the Tibetan highlands, multi-award-winning nature photographer Vincent Munier guides writer Sylvain Tesson on his quest to document the infamously elusive snow leopard. Munier introduces Tesson to the subtle art of waiting from a blind spot, tracking animals, and finding the patience to catch sight of the beasts. Through their journey in the Tibetan peaks, inhabited by invisible presences, the two men ponder humankind’s place amongst the magnificent creatures and glorious landscapes they encounter along the way.
Marie Amiguet’s discreet camera, which films them both, takes us into this world of silence and altitude that is the kingdom of the snow leopard. Vincent Munier has already undertaken several trips to try to photograph the snow leopard: during the fourth one, he invites Marie Amiguet and Sylvain Tesson to follow him. Each of the travellers will leave a trace of this pilgrimage to the meeting of the snow leopard: Vincent Munier a photographic album, Sylvain Tesson a book (Renaudot prize) and Marie Amiguet a film, which is discussed today.
Vincent Munier, who for a long time has been hunting for images alone, explains the richness of working together, which allows for a multiplication of views and approaches: “We broaden the spectrum: Sylvain brings his words, which are of incredible strength and power, […] Marie comes to combine images and very strong presence of animals… It is really magnificent teamwork to finally pay tribute to this snow leopard. “
Sylvain Tesson talks about his discovery of the “hunting blind”, which partly changed his perception of the world: “Suddenly, the operating art of the “hunting blind” requires a configuration contrary [to what I was used to]: you let the world come to you, you let it sparkle instead of going to look for it … at the risk that nothing happens! But that’s what I learned on this trip: waiting, even if it doesn’t bring anything, is worth it for itself.”
Trained as a biologist and then graduated with a master’s degree in wildlife cinema (IFFCAM), the Franco-Swiss director Marie Amiguet filmed with Jean-Michel Bertrand The Valley of the Wolves and directed With Wolves, a portrait of the filmmaker. In 2017, she met Vincent Munier with whom she signed Le silence des bêtes, a protest against lynx poaching. Then she embarked on an adventure to Tibet to film the meeting of the writer and photographer.
Trained as a geographer, journalist and travel writer, Sylvain Tesson divides his life between long-distance expeditions, writing and making adventure documentaries. His book Dans les forêts de Sibérie (Gallimard) won the Médicis essay prize in 2011 and has been adapted to film. La panthère des neiges was published on October 10, 2019 by Gallimard and received the Renaudot Prize the same year.
Vincent Munier is a photographer, filmmaker and editor, in love with wide-open spaces and sensitive to the poetry of the wild world. From the Vosges to the Arctic via Tibet, he tries, through his photographs, books and films, to share his passion and above all to alert people to the vital need to be in harmony with other living beings. He founded KOBALANN Éditions & Productions in 2010 and is the author of a dozen books, including Solitudes, Arctic and Tibet, animal mineral.