The Eagle Huntress is a truly impressive first film by director and journalist, Otto Bell. An Oxford graduate with a focus on marketing, he’s used his skills to convey the inspiring story of 13-year-old Mongolian girl, Aisholpan. His beautiful cinematography and storytelling is impressive, avoiding the cold, emotionless gaze documentaries often turn. Bell does an amazing job of catching important scenes of humanity, truly fleshing out the real life story of Aisholpan.
A girl from a Mongolian tribe, steeped in the tradition of eagle hunting, Aisholpan knew she was destined to be an Eagle Hunter from early childhood. Ignorant to the cold gaze of the outside world, she hoped to be the first Huntress the Mongolian eagle hunting community had ever seen.
“Eagle hunting is for men. Women can’t ride horses; the mountains are far too cold for their fragile constitutions. And besides, eagles are very picky when choosing companions.” Ancient, hardened eagle hunters share this knowledge with the audience. Almost no women had ever been eagle hunters, and in their words, for good reason. “Women belong at home, making tea.”
Aisholpan, deaf to their words, dared to dream under the tutelage of a loving father who passed down his passion for the sport. When asked in an interview if her father, Nurgaiv, had ever thought of barring her from eagle hunting, he only described his love and pride for her and his understanding of her strength. From early on, he could see her potential and never considered stopping her.
The audience has the privilege of watching Aishoplan endlessly train, working diligently to achieve her dreams. She is strong in body and mind, a hard worker and a dreamer. A young girl of passion and determination, Bell skillfully captures Aishoplan’s character. A sweet girl living her dream, the audience, as evidenced by loud clapping and cheers throughout, deeply connects with Aishoplan’s journey as she works to set an example for other girls. This is due to, not only Aishoplan’s sweet disposition and work ethic, but also to Bell’s skill in capturing key scenes.
In documentaries, we can see only small snippets of reality. With such small opportunities, it’s important to make each scene count, to ensure they mean something. In The Eagle Huntress, each scene is a revelation of Aishoplan’s growth and character, and a testament to her loving family and friends. Each shot tells something important, captured with the gaze of human emotion. Clear and seamlessly connected, scenes flow and enhance the telling of an amazing story.
The Eagle Huntress, a beautiful piece of cinematography, is truly a must see film. Inspiring in subject and conveyance, audiences all across the United States have enjoyed the compelling story of a girl who dared to dream, and wanted to see others do it too.