The internet is buzzing with excitement about The Eagle Huntress, a newly released documentary about a Mongolian teenage nomad. Considered by many to be a strong Oscar contender, the film follows Aisholpan’s journey to become a woman.
The movie’s production has been propelled forwards by a series of coincidences. Director Otto Bell just happened to see a picture of the film’s protagonist, Aisholpan. He immediately headed off to Mongolia, where the teenager’s father invited him to film a pivotal moment in the girl’s life: The capture of her first eagle.
The film was shot by just a handful of crew: Bell, photographer Asher Svidensky and an cameraman. This made it extremely difficult to get footage of Aisholpan’s descent down a cliff and into the nest of her eagle. Bell ultimately stuck a GoPro on her clothing then climbed an opposite mountainface to capture her descent. The scenes are so breathtaking that some critics thought they were reenactments, not actual footage.
Bell says the movie isn’t just about Aisholpan’s empowerment; it’s about her father, a key figure in allowing her to soar. It was her father’s initial encouragement that allowed the movie to start, and Bell captures plenty of scenes of the family together. Throughout the course of the movie, viewers learn that Aisholpan has always had a connection to eagles. She’s lucky to have been born into a family that allows her to capture her dreams, and viewers are fortunate to be able to watch her journey.