In The eagle huntress we see what happens when girls are given the same opportunities and encouragements that boys are getting. This documentary follows 13-year-old Aisholpan, a Kazakh girl from Mongolia. Aisholpan dreams of becoming the first-ever Eagle Huntress. In the traditional Altai region, it is unseemly for a teenage girl to help her father at the farm and not her mother in the home. But Aisholpan’s parents understand and love her. We are wowed by her father’s pronunciation of equalities between boys and girls. If Aisholpan wants to be an eagle huntress, he’s going to help her become one. They are hoping that she will be able to be a contestant at the next competition. Meanwhile we get the opinions from a pompous bunch of elders in the eagle hunters community, who bitterly say that a girl has no place being an eagle hunter. At the farm Aisholpan has to prepare for competition. First, she has to climb a steep mountain to find an infant eagle and take it from the nest while its mother is gone. Director Otto Bell knows how to edit for maximum suspense. Here he shows the eagle/mother flying nearby to covey immediate danger. Then Aisholpan has to feed the bird to adulthood, and train it to catch a prey and fly on its master’s gloved hand while she’s riding on a horse. After competition is over, Aisholpan has to prove her worth as an eagle huntress by going in the snow cover wilderness with her eagle and hunt fox. It feels like some of the events we see have re-enacted. The images are too properly framed for most of the film, and the improbable presence of a camera crew while they were training or doing preparation. Still, it is worth seeing for its positive outlook. We need that right now. And cinematographer Simon Niblett’s stunningly grandiose images of Mongolia, are alone worth the price of admission. To see with your teenage children, especially your daughter.
The eagle huntress
English narration by Daisy Ridley
In English and Kazakh with English subtitles.