The uniqueness of documentary films affords us with an unfiltered, first-hand glimpse into a person’s life adventures.  These “reality” movies place us—the filmgoer—directly into the world of non-actors doing what they do best being themselves.  Through these documentaries, we partake in history as it’s recording, warts and all, starring those who making it all happen. 

In “The Eagle Huntress,” we are invited into the nomadic culture of one family living in the snow-covered Altai Mountains of Mongolia near the border with China.  This film’s deeply powerful and rich story develops as a young girl attempts to enter the competitive Mongol world of eagle hunters. 

Narrated by “The Force Awakens’” heroine Daisy Ridley (who played Rey in the “Star Wars” classic), “The Eagle Huntress” introduces viewers to a 13-year old girl named Aisholpan, as she learns the 1,000-year old trade skill of training golden eagles to help a tribe hunt for elusive foxes … a desperate source of food and clothing in Mongolia’s harsh 40-degrees-below-zero climate.

Tackling strong stereotypes and the custom of male-only eagle hunters, this young girl must convince her father to alter her family’s twelve-generation practice of a patriarch teaching his son the time-honored art of taming predatory birds. 

Gorgeous cinematography educates and inspires throughout.  With today’s over-reliance upon computer-generated imagery to create the perfect shot, it’s breathtaking to see a movie captured on the big-screen using only natural, postcard-quality outdoor scenes. In fact, while this film’s story is largely singular and focused solely on Aisholpan’s attempt to become the first woman to earn the coveted eagle huntress title, the English subtitles and amazing photography masterfully transplants us deep inside the nomadic tribal lifestyle.

Combined with its feel-good underdog narrative and mesmerizing images resides a galvanizing soundtrack that warms one’s heart and soul.  No music is more stirring than Sia’s song, “Angel by the Wings,” booming during the film’s credits and final still shots of Aisholpan.  

“The Eagle Huntress” is bigger, though, than just one girl or what she achieves for women everywhere. It’s a charming cinematic and first-hand account of a culture that has withstood centuries of extreme cold and severe conditions.  All the while, the Mongol people have continued to thrive as a society and tribe.  And thrive they have.  We witness long-standing Mongolian norms challenged with perseverance and demonstrated skills.   For that, we can stand and applaud one girl’s triumph.  

“The Eagle Huntress” is now playing for a short period at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway, in Tucson.  You may call (520) 322-5638 for show times.

Grade: A 

“The Eagle Huntress” is rated G for all audiences. Its running time is 1 hour and 27 minutes. 

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