The Eagle Huntress (2016)

Rated G. Running time: 1 hour 27 min.

Our content ratings: Violence 1; Language 0; Sex/Nudity 1.

Our star rating (1-5): 4

You shall also say to the Israelites, “If a man dies, and has no son,

then you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughter.

Numbers 27:8

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Aisholpan and her majestic golden eagle. (c) Kissaki Films

Director Otto Bell’s endearing film about a 13-year-old girl from Mongolia’s Altai Mountains obviously is a carefully worked out documentary. Nurgaiv is the 12th male generation of his family to engage in the difficult task of hunting with golden eagles. Now his daughter Aisholpan also wants to be a part of the family’s proud tradition. Although his, like that of ancient Israel’s, is a patriarchal culture, he is very supportive of his daughter’s ambition.

The film follows the father and daughter as they hunt for a baby eagle in a nest high up a cliff, through the period of training it, to the annual Golden Eagle Festival in the Mongolian provincial capital of Olgii, many miles from their home. Nurgaiv has won this event twice, so he is certainly an appropriate mentor for the girl. She names her eagle Akkatnat (meaning White Wings).

During week days Aisholpan lives in a dormitory for girls because her school is too far from her yurt to return home each day. A tom boy, she excels in girls’ athletics at the school, as well as in her studies. Backed by both her father and grandfather, she will be the first female ever to enter the Golden Eagle Festival.

Partly for comic relief Bell shows several male hunters upset that the girl is training an eagle. They spout the usual male chauvinist criticisms about women not being strong enough to endure the rigors of a hunt. This serves to make the climactic events at the Festival even more exciting.

This is another good film to show our daughters and granddaughters that the sky is the limit for female aspirations. Literally in the case of this film, with its many shots of Aisholpan’s majestic Akkatnat soaring aloft, and then at her command swooping down upon its prey. During the training period, she makes mistakes, but is always encouraged by her father to go on. With the heavy bird, its wingspan close to 6 feet, she becomes a fitting symbol of female courage and determination.  If you liked the New Zealand film The Whale Rider, about the granddaughter of a Maori chieftain aspiring to succeed him, you will enjoy this stirring film.

 This review with a set of questions will be in the Jan. 2017 issue of VP.

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