The Eagle Huntress

Synopsis: 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.
Director(s): Otto Bell
Production: Kissiki Film
  Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 9 wins & 18 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
87 min

God is great.

You are an innocent lamb,

but this eagle deserves an offering.

My dear eagle.

The time has come for you...

to fly up to the sky and be free.

We have been together for a long time.

And you have only brought

good things to me.

It is not easy for me to let you go.

But I will release you,

because everything has its end.

It's only right to let you go.

Fly to the sky.

The lamb is just for you.

This will be the last meal from me.

My name is Aisholpan.

This May I turned 13.

How were your classes?

Good. Straight A's.

I was born in the Altai Mountains.

A child of the nomads.

I help my dad a lot.

We do everything together.

- There it is.

- Where?

There it is.

Got him!

I love my dad.

He's like a teacher to me.

My dad and my grandpa

are eagle hunters.

In our family...

we have been eagle hunters...

for generations.

It is not a choice.

It's a calling

that has to be in your blood.

When it snows...

we go to the mountains

with the eagles and hunt foxes.

A hunter and a catcher

work together as a team.

We use the skin for fur hats...

and warm clothes.

We compete at festivals.

I have become a champion two times.

Got into the top five many times.

I was hooked.

The horses...

the clothing, the equipment.

Looking at my dad and grandpa...

I want to do the same.

Let me hold it.

Ever since she was young...

Aisholpan has been

fascinated by the eagles.

Hold this.

Please hold it gently.

She would watch her dad

feeding them...

utterly transfixed.

She definitely takes after him, not me.

Sadly, that doesn't leave

much time for me and her.

But I don't resent that.

I just want my daughter to love her life.


You're a natural.

It's being forceful, pressing.

She holds the eagle with strength.

She's not afraid of it at all.

Maybe it's in her blood as well.

Because all the men in my family

have been eagle hunters...

my dream is to become the first

eagle huntress in Mongolia.


- No.

- Girls do not eagle hunt.

Elder people disapprove of it.

Men go eagle hunting.

This is the legacy of our forefathers.

Women are weaker and more fragile.

While men go eagle hunting...

women are at home

preparing tea and water.

They milk cows,

process milk, make kurt.

It's hard for girls

to go to the mountains...

and chase animals on horses.

They get cold.

Aisholpan says she wants to be

an eagle hunter...

to continue our tradition.

People say she should not

be doing this.

So I worry for her.

But I think girls and boys are equal.

Girls can do anything

boys can if they try.

My father taught me...

and I don't want to let her down.

I began teaching Aisholpan...

showing her how to cover

the eagle's head.

Then she learned...

to pull the rabbit along.


After trying this...

we tried calling the eagle to eat.

Where is your voice?

Raise your arm!

That's good!

She learned to fly the eagle

from the mountain.

Launch it this way.

Pay attention. Again.

Release. Again.

Okay, good. Congratulations.

Even some men can't do that.

Are you hungry? Do your feet hurt?

Are you tired?

Are you hot?

Are you hungry?

I'll feed you when we get home.

We go to school by the Syr river...

because there is no school

in our area.

Let's play again!

I live in the dormitory.

I've been living here

since the 2nd grade.

It's been so long since

we've known each other.

We've lived together

for 5 years in the dorm.

I've lived here for 7 years.

We are all neighbours.

We study and work.

We are at school for only 5 days.

On Fridays we go home.

My brother and sister

live with me in the dormitory.

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Randy Sosin


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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "The Eagle Huntress" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 30 Jul 2021. <>.

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