At the center of the film, “The Eagle Huntress” is Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl living a nomadic life with her parents, brother, and sister. For generations, her family has been eagle hunters, and this young girl decided that she wanted to follow in her father’s, grandfather’s, and forefather’s footsteps. Her dream was to be an Eagle Huntress, and that magnificent accomplishment is captured in this beautifully filmed and inspiring movie.
“If there was an American girl who suddenly said, ‘Dad, I want to be a bull rider!’ we might wonder where that came from,” says director Otto Bell. “But if she’d been standing at the paddock every day for the last thirteen years looking at the bulls, you might say, ‘I knew this day would come.’” Aisholpan has been living with eagle hunters her entire life and at a young age she decided she wanted to join the family business, so to speak.
While the elders in the tribe do not think it is appropriate for a girl to be an eagle hunter, Aisholpan and her family forge on with her training. While she is supposed to be “fragile” and stay home and make the tea, she proves that she is just as capable as any man.
Aisholpan is an amazing and determined girl. Yet she is “deeply shy” and it took awhile for her to become accustomed to the filmmakers. Viewers will also see that the eagle is part of the family, living part-time in their home.
As the filmmakers say, this is “a female empowerment film” but it is also a “father/daughter” story. This is a great film to watch with your own family and also when you’re not feeling so self-confident yourself. Just watch Aisholpan and you will gain a new outlook on life to go after your dreams.
The film is in Kazakh and English with English Subtitles, however, most of it is simply beautiful and amazing action. The “making of” bonus feature is well worth watching too. Viewers see how the various cameras were used to capture the action as it was happening, which was extremely difficult because this was a low budget documentary being filmed in a very remote place. But the final result is awe-inspiring. The film was nominated for several awards and won many of them. “The Eagle Huntress” is available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning February 7.