Aisholpan, Mongolia's first female eagle huntress

Aisholpan, a young Mongolian tribegirl has become the first ever female eagle huntress with a stunning new documentary showcasing her incredible talent and life to the world

Aisholpan, Mongolia's first female eagle huntress

World Bulletin / News Desk

Aisholpan Nurgaiv is a 13-year-old girl living with her nomadic family in Mongolia’s Altai mountains, a harsh, unforgiving place of isolation and physical duress. For centuries, her Kazakh family’s tribe has hunted for food and fur with the assistance of golden eagles they train from a young age.

All around this young woman lies the bone-dry expanse of the province of Bayan-Olgii: thousands of square miles of sparsely inhabited rocky grassland ringed by snow-capped mountains. This is the landscape and stoutly traditional lifestyle captured in the beautiful feature documentary, directed by Northumberland-born, New York-based Otto Bell and narrated by Daisy Ridley, who played Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And it’s the backdrop to the story of Aisholpan’s quest.

She was determined to follow in her father and elder brother’s footsteps and learn to hunt on horseback (for rabbits and foxes, for food and fur) using golden eagles – and, in so doing, defy generations of patriarchal Kazakh custom. The Eagle Huntress is the soaring tale of this exceptional young girl, 13 at the time filming began, training hard and fighting for her passion. 

Although eagle hunting is traditionally a male purview, Aisholpan has always taken to it and, along with her father, has decided it’s time for her to adopt and train an eagle of her own.

If Aisholpan’s story, told in “The Eagle Huntress,” sounds like a heroine’s journey worthy of fiction at its most mythic and stirring, it most certainly is. But the tale happens to be true. Making a breathtakingly impressive feature-directing debut, documentarian Otto Bell traveled to the far northwest corner of Mongolia to observe Aisholpan not only as she tamed and enlisted the loyalty of an imposing bird of prey but also as she overcame the ingrained sexism of her elders — all while maintaining the same dazzling, serene smile.

Incredible cinematography that soars, swoops and canters across Mongolia’s lunar landscape along with the film’s subjects, “The Eagle Huntress” introduces Aisholpan while she’s at school, in a town so far from her family’s ger, or yurt, that she stays in the dorm with other teen girls all week. Once her father comes to fetch her on his motorcycle, her mind is on mastering the art and cultural practice of eagle hunting.

“The Eagle Huntress” eventually finds Aisholpan competing at a hitherto men-only eagle hunting competition and, later, taking her eagle out for its first bona fide hunt. The competition scenes are particularly fun to watch: Not only are the feats of precision and fearlessness on display utterly captivating, but Bell also includes a wittily edited montage of men dismissing Aisholpan’s skills one minute, only to be forced to eat their words.

Washington Post

Last Mod: 06 Aralık 2016, 12:48
Add Comment