The Velvet Queen
Only those who are able to make themselves invisible will experience the momentous beauty of Tibetan wildlife. In their search for their “velvet queen”, the snow leopard, Vincent Munier, a famous wildlife photographer, and Sylvain Tesson, a travel writer, try to blend into the landscape so that they can observe and capture their intended prey undisturbed. Motionless and in complete silence, they wait for hours in temperatures as low as 30 degrees Celsius. The tension is tangible: will they ever see the object of their desire?
Munier follows every trace, studies their hunting grounds, and collects evidence of the whereabouts of these shy mountain predators. In his travelogue, published as a book, Tesson writes “Munier impressed me with the way he observes the landscape. He reads it like poetry.” Not as a human, but as if through the eyes of an animal. Their unbounded perseverance and determination are eventually rewarded with fantastic shots of the untrampled Tibetan landscape and its wildlife at an altitude of around 5000 metres. Not only are viewers left with a memory of the pictures, but we experience a sense of calm and a changed perspective.
The film premièred at the Cannes Film Festival. Warren Ellis and Nick Cave provided the musical accompaniment to this unique film. For the snow leopard, they set Tesson’s texts to music and included both natural and animal sounds.
However, the question remains, will Munier and Tesson finally espy their velvet queen?