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Mill Valley Film Festival: Path of the Panther

“You have to show people the animal in order to create that connection, that love and appreciation. It’s all about setting the stage and waiting.”

— Carlton Ward Jr.

This quote made a big impact on me as soon as I heard it. As someone who has a deep love and appreciation for wildlife, I have long championed the preservation of these creatures and their habitat. And this quote struck me as to why all of those beautiful National Geographic photos and those awe-inspiring wildlife documentaries were important. We need to see in order to both understand and empathize.

Directed by Eric Bendick, Path of the Panther is a documentary that does just that. It allows the viewers to see the Florida panther in all its glory while also learning about the creature’s struggle to survive. With the encroaching suburbs shrinking its natural habitat and a mysterious neurological illness affecting kittens,panthers are up against a big battle in order to not go instinct. That’s where Carlton Ward Jr. steps in. As a photographer for the National Geographic, he truly understands that in order to save the panther people must see the panther. He and his team set up a sophisticated camera system in an area of the Florida Everglades in order to capture images of the panther in all its glory. And these images are truly breathtaking. The documentary also follows the efforts to rehabilitate injured panthers and to stop a new toll road from taking away even more of the panther’s habitat.

Path of the Panther is as stunning as it is revelatory. Come for the important conservation message, stay for some incredible images of the Florida panther.

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