By Leah Marshall
The Eagle Huntress (2016) recently soared onto The Poly’s screens in Falmouth, selling out on its first night.
The documentary follows a brave 13-year old Kazakh girl named Aisholpan as she breaks the mould of her traditionalist tribe, who reside in the breathtaking Altai Mountains of Mongolia.
Aisholpan is the descendant of 7 generations of male eagle hunters and with the support of her family, she intends to be a part of that tradition.
With the guidance of her father Nurgaiv, she began training with his golden eagle, proving her dedication. She then scales a mountain and captures herself an eaglet, showing great bravery.
On acquiring the eaglet, Nurgaiv said she was “as brave as any man.” The unrelenting support from her family is moving, whilst those in the eagle hunting community discourage her.
It’s inspiring to watch Aisholpan work tirelessly to achieve her dreams as she faces harsh winds, long journeys fraught with ice and danger. While also supporting the weight of her eagle.
After vigorous training Aisholpan enters the annual eagle festival in Ulgi, Mongolia. She is the first eagle huntress in the competitions history, and the youngest person to ever participate.
She arrived unannounced and was greeted with disapproval and discomfort. Many of the male hunters made comments that she was “weaker and more fragile” than the other competitors.
It verges on comical to see the elderly eagle hunters’ shocked reactions to a female entering the competition. Luckily, it did not sway her from achieving her goal.
Through rigorous trials and harsh judgement she performed with incredible grace, and put to shame those who believe she doesn’t have what it takes to be an eagle huntress.
The cinematography is breathtaking; eagles soar through the majestic Mongolian landscape. The aerial shots capture the immense beauty of the Altai Mountains.
The films uplifting and moving score includes an original song: ‘Angel by the Wings’ by Sia, which was written specifically for the documentary. It encapsulates the struggle and triumph of her journey.
In light of International Women’s day, this film shines brightly and is a striking reminder that inequality is still rife in other parts of the world.
This however, doesn’t stop Aisholpan from rising to the top.