This spellbinding documentary follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl who is fighting to become the first female eagle hunter in twelve generations of her Kazakh family. Through breathtaking aerial cinematography and intimate verite footage, the film captures her personal journey while also addressing universal themes like female empowerment, the natural world, coming of age and the onset of modernity.
Heart-warming documentary with eye-candy photography
"The Eagle Huntress" (2016 release from the UK; 87 min.) is a documentary about Aisholpan, a 13 yr. Mongolian girl, and her quest to become the first female eagle huntress. As the movie opens, we are introduced to the wide open spaces of western Mongolia, where eagles have been used for chasing "food and fur" for generations, but until now it was done exclusively by men. We get to know Aisholpan and her family. Her loving and doting dad has noticed his daughter's interest in eagle hunting and, against the better (?) thinking of certain other men in the local community, decides to train her. At this point we're 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of what's about to unfold would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this documentary is directed by Otto Bell, whom I've never heard of before. Not that it matters, as Bell and the entire production crew are "embedded" in Ulgii and the surrounding parts of western Mongolia, with seemingly unrestricted access to Aisholpan and her family. What we get is a heart-warming documentary about a young girl's determination (encouraged by a loving dad) to become an eagle huntress. Along the way, we get gorgeous footage of the eagle hunters in action (check out the slo-mo footage--pure eye-candy) but also a fascinating look at what daily life is like in this remote part of the world. And in the end, this is also about girl empowerment, pure and simple. Kudos to Aisholpan's supportive dad (and the rest of the family). When Sia's original song "Angel by the Wings" plays over the end credits (with the most appropriate line "You Can Do Anything"), I dare you to suppress a smile or approving grin.
"The Eagle Huntress" opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati this weekend, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Friday evening screening where I saw this at was attended very nicely, somewhat to my surprise (in the best possible way). Seems there may be a demand for this kind of family-friendly documentary with a deeper message that one might expect at first sight. If you love documentaries, you cannot go wrong with this one. "The Eagle Huntress" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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