A documentary that follows the efforts of "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently," a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. ... See full summary »
Way back when (well, 2012 to be exact), we commissioned a video to launch the new ASOS Africa collection. Little did we know one of its stars would end up landing the biggest job in the ... See full summary »
In the summer of 1983, just days before the birth of his first son, writer and theologian John Hull went blind. In order to make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began keeping a diary ... See full summary »
John M. Hull,
A boy writes a comic book with his best friend, and finds situations depicted in the comic book coming to life. Along with the appearance of a mysterious girl, the boy is forced to face the... See full summary »
Mark Forester Evans,
This spellbinding documentary follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl who is fighting to become the first female eagle hunter in twelve generations of her Kazakh family. Through breathtaking aerial cinematography and intimate verite footage, the film captures her personal journey while also addressing universal themes like female empowerment, the natural world, coming of age and the onset of modernity.
Since The Eagle Huntress is a documentary, I will do it the courtesy of getting directly to the point. The movie is stunning. It's beautifully shot, incredibly rendered and a substantial storytelling treat. It's the rare documentary that takes its admittedly small subject matter, a girl and her pet eagle, and capitalizes on the rich opportunities therein. Furthermore, if you took out Daisy Ridley's narration, and the side interviews that hammer home the fact that you're watching a girl power film in the best possible sense, you'd swear this film was a narrative feature.
The Eagle Huntress is the moniker of the young Aisholpan Nurgaiv; a 13-year-old girl who sheds tradition to take part in a sport exclusively for the males of her culture. For more than twelve generations, Aisholpan's ancestors used eagles to compete in falconry competitions, hunt for foxes and gain a form of status among the nomadic tribes of the Mongolian steppes. Tribal leaders and fellow Eagle Hunters of course, balk at the idea of Aisholpan's inclusion. But with the help of her supportive father (an accomplished Eagle Hunter in his own rite), Aisholpan tirelessly goes through the training to become the first female Eagle Huntress in history.
Part of her journey includes taking part in the Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia, where Aisholpan and her eaglet compete in a myriad of events to determine the best of the best. Whether on purpose or a happy accident, the camera fastidiously captures every event with careful and visceral consideration. The blithe and even hostile looks people give our hero as she trots her horse towards the sign-in booth, gives the audience so much to invest in. The cherry on top is Aisholpan's newly minted hair pompoms which hang on her braids like an announcement of the changing winds.
Tucked in-between the festival and Aisholpan's first foray into winter time fox hunting are exquisite depictions of everyday nomadic life on the perilous steppe. Aisholpan and her young siblings play along the borders of their parents yert as the austere mountains threaten to envelope their livelihood. You get a sense both of the dangers of living in such inhospitable lands, and the allure of such a quaint and insulated existence among grass, rock and pebbled riverbeds. Though the majesty and the quiet dignity, there looms an omnipresent reality; these tribal groups have been living like this since before Napoleon, Charles II and the founding of the United States and will continue to do so far into the future.
If there is one drawback to a documentary this beautiful inside and out, it comes out of the blurring of reality and staged reality. Director Otto Bell has made it clear in interviews that parts of the film are edited out of chronological order in order to belabor its feminist message. Furthermore, if you're hyper-aware of the camera and its placement it's impossible not to conclude several shots were not candid shots. While I understand why these things were included, and while I agree that they don't necessarily break the tenuous rules of documentary film making, they hardly seem necessary given the subject.
And my what a multifaceted subject Aisholpan proves to be. Her steadfast love for her family, her spirit in the face of adversity and her uncompromising zeal for the sport she loves so very much, is enough to rank among the best coming-of-age stories. She's impossible not to root for - and I guarantee by the end, you'll love her for it.
5 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this