Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival


The Velvet Queen

A svelte, slinky figure in spotted silvery blond, the snow leopard is one of the great haughty glamazons of the animal kingdom – a status suitably acknowledged in the English-language title of The Velvet Queen, French docmaker Marie Amiguet’s lovely, unexpected screen ode to the little-seen feline. — Yet if the title implies the naturalist’s equivalent of diva worship, the film’s approach surprises us, fixating less on the furry dazzle of the snow leopard in her natural Tibetan habitat than on the very act of looking at nature in the first place. Joining two compatriots – leading wildlife photographer Vincent Munier and adventurer Sylvain Tesson – on an arduous trek to catch sight of the beast, the doc thoughtfully ponders the conflicted nature of a one-way relationship between watcher and watched. — Amiguet’s elegant, unusual documentary shifts the role of the game-spotter from that of non-violent hunter – in pursuit of one prized target – to passive but duly wide-eyed observer, accepting but also appreciating the limits of our access.

Guy Lodge, Variety

The documentarian adopts a predominantly contemplative approach. Amiguet keeps a very low profile and alternates between stunning images of magical landscapes and the marvellous creatures populating Tibet. The juxtaposition is somehow effective and contributes to delivering an intense sensorial experience. — The Velvet Queen is a godsend for lovers of observational documentaries, slow cinema and wild nature.

Davide Abbatescianni, Cineuropa

Original Title: La panthère des neiges
Language: French
Subtitles: English
Length: 92 min
Age Limit: S
Year: 2021
Production Country: France

Director: Marie Amiguet
Producer: Vincent Munier
Production Company: Paprika Films, Kobalann Production
Screenplay: Marie Amiguet, Vincent Munier, Sylvain Tesson
Editing: Marie Amiguet, Vincent Schmitt
Cinematographer: Marie Amiguet, Vincent Munier
Music: Warren Ellis, Nick Cave