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Film / The Eagle Huntress

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The Eagle Huntress is a 2016 documentary film directed by Otto Bell.

It is the story of Aisholpan, a Kazakh girl living in the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia. Eagle hunting is a prized skill amongst the Kazakh people, and Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, dreams of becoming an eagle huntress herself. Her father Rys, a veteran eagle hunter, is eager to train her, but the elder males in Aisholpan's tribe are skeptical that a girl can be an eagle hunter. Aishoplan is determined, however, and studies the art of eagle hunting with her father. She has the chance to prove herself, first at an eagle-hunting competition, and then on a winter fox hunt with her father.

Narrated by Daisy Ridley, who received an executive producer credit.


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  • Based on a True Story: The film might not be precisely 100% true. Various news reports after The Eagle Huntress was released have stated that Aisholpan wasn't really the first girl eagle hunter in her tribe, and that the opposition of the village elders to letting a girl hunt eagles was highly exaggerated. Additionally, the camera work is suspiciously excellent, as if many shots were staged for the camera's view.
  • Big Game: The eagle festival, in which Aisholpan can prove her eagle hunting skills to the skeptics.
  • Daddy's Girl: Aisholpan's mother says that Aisholpan takes after her father much more. And Aisholpan's mom is OK with that.
  • Documentary: Maybe not a completely accurate one; see Based on a True Story above.
  • Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak: While Aisholpan loves eagle hunting, the film makes clear that in other ways she's a typical girly girl, who likes pink ribbons and painting her nails.
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  • Narrator: Daisy Ridley's narration is used fairly sparingly, amounting to about 5 minutes total.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: Obviously, full of footage of Golden Eagles being awesome, as well as information about how they're viewed as Noble Birds of Prey in Mongolia.
  • Rite of Passage: The fox hunt, even more than the eagle festival. Success in going up into the mountains and killing a fox with her eagle means that Aisholpan is a real eagle huntress.
  • Scenery Porn: Some incredible aerial shots of the Altai Mountains.
  • Talking Heads: Mostly averted, as the commentary from Aishoplan and Rys comes via voice-over. But there are a couple of Talking Head sequences in which male elders of the tribe express skepticism that a girl can be an eagle hunter.
  • Time Skip: Complete with dramatic musical effect, as the film cuts from the eagle festival in summer to a shot of the village in snow-covered winter, as Aisholpan is getting ready for her first hunt.
  • Training Montage: One sequence has Rys running Aisholpan through the basics in eagle hunting, including pulling a dead rabbit on a rope to train the eagle to pounce, and training the eagle to land on the hunter's hand.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Will Aisholpan win the eagle festival competition? Of course she will! Everyone is shocked when her eagle takes only five seconds to descend from the mountain and land on her hand.
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