Tuesday, May 14, 2024

399 : Queen of the Tetons - 2024 SIFF Documentary Review

The Documentary: 399: Queen of the Tetons

The Director: Elizabeth Leiter

The Story: 399: Queen of the Tetons follows the life of world famous Grizzly #399 as she attempts to raise four cubs.

The Rating: 7 / 10

The Review:
If you've ever wanted to fall in love with a bear, then this is the documentary for you. Director Elizabeth Leiter sheds light on the most famously photographed bear in the world by delving deep into the heart of her existence and the troubles caused by never ending human expansion. Leiter poses the question of whether or not humanity is at fault, or even responsible for the actions 399 takes in just trying to survive let alone protecting and raising her family of cubs.

It's easy to be sympathetic to the wild nature of nature and, for the most part, this documentary shows how it can be possible for a peaceful co-existence even as the persistence of humanity's need to expand and consume rarely takes into account its impact on the landscape and all the affected inhabitants. No solid solutions are presented except for the obvious. Stop taking over every bit of available land. Just leave some for the eco-system that has existed in these very spaces.

Leiter, along with cinematographer Daniel Carter, present some truly amazing scenery to go along with some fantastic camera work documenting as much bear activity as they could. For most of the story, they follow along with Thomas Mangelsen, an award winning wildlife photographer and conservationist who has pretty much been 399's personal photographer for many years and I think he presents the best arguments for why 399, her family, and wildlife in general all need to be as protected as possible.

I hope that 399's story will inspire people to get involved and take action to preserve natural habitats and wildlife spaces while also taking steps to prevent these animals from being hunted out of existence. Aside from all of that, this film is a beautiful documentation of nature and wildlife and an engaging story of maybe the most famously likeable grizzly bear to ever live.

To keep track of all my SIFF reviews and festival coverage please go to: TheTwoOhSix at SIFF 2024. Also, visit the official SIFF How to Fest web page for detailed info on how to make the most of your festival experience.

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