Currently showing on HBO, this documentary directed by Otto Bell is a must see.

After National Geographic published images of a young Mongolian girl Aisholpan Nurgaiv, training her pet Golden Eagle, the images went viral and the documentary The Eagle Huntress was born, and won a BAFTA for Best Documentary.

Otto Bell directs the documentary that plays more like a scripted action adventure than reality. He takes full advantage of hooking us into his story and engages us with the fear and emotion of this young girl’s astounding achievement. The film has a breathtaking and expansive cinematic feel as this 13 year old girl challenges the legacy of this ancient tradition that is her heritage. At times there is an Eagle-eye view, achieved by creating a special harness that attached a GoPro camera to the bird.

Aisholpan has a close relationship with her nomadic family. They live in the rugged mountains of Mongolia. Her father, a champion Eagle Hunter is supportive of his daughter’s ability, and he and his wife have nurtured her fascination with Eagle’s since she was a baby in her crib. After her brother leaves to join the Army, she takes on many of his heavy chores. Her young body becomes used to the cruel punishment of the unforgiving climate. Hiking for miles in below freezing temperatures, through thigh-high snow, with a 15 pound Golden Eagle on her arm, is no big deal.

I especially enjoyed the close and loving relationship Aisholpan has with her Eagle. She was affectionate and loving. He is her pet. Often when she is feeding him, he wraps his wing around her shoulder.

Daisy Ridley narrates this captivating story that culminates in Aisholpan being the first woman to compete on a National level in the Golden Eagle Festival at Olgii. Because she is a woman, she is scrutinized more severely than the men, her scores must be perfect. Aisholpan never loses confidence or is afraid, but after she beats the National record of an Eagle call, where her bird swoops from the sky within 5 seconds of her call, she admits her hands are trembling.

The Eagle Huntress isĀ  a female empowering family film.


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