A Heroine for 2017


The young heroine of The Eagle Huntress is the type of girl we’d like to follow into 2017. At age 13, Aisholpan and her golden eagle win a world-class speed competition against 70 male eagle hunters. The pixie-faced girl, who likes to paint her nails and giggle with friends, but also wins wrestling contests against the boys at school, pursues her dream to become a master eagle huntress, leaving the tribal elders powerless to do much more than waggle their fingers. The gorgeous documentary introduces a young woman who chooses an unusual path, enjoys the support of her parents, and defies expectations of both age and gender to accomplish what she knows she is born to do.. The New York Times calls it “a bliss-out” and the film is nominated for many awards this season.

Aisholpan’s natural confidence is all we need for our January inspiration.

Gather the family to watch this film, which was released in November but is still in theaters, and will be available to stream on Amazon starting on February 7, 2017. Here is the review from Common Sense which recommends the film for kids 8+ and offers tips for conversation after the film. Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) is a producer, and narrates the film, lending credibility to the female empowerment theme. But be sure to bring your boys, as well. This is a film for the whole family.

Aisholpan Nurgaiv descends from generations of Mongolian Eagle Hunters and according to her mother, focused from a young age on following in her father and grandfather’s footsteps. We watch her capture a young eagle and train it, then compete against 70 men in the ‘world-series’ of eagle hunting competitions – she is the youngest person and first woman to do so.  When Nurgaiv’s eagle breaks a speed record, tribal elders challenge her to prove her worth as a master eagle huntress by capturing a fox. With an enviable set of colorful caps and piles of fur coats, Aisholpan and her Dad journey into spectacular, unspoiled wilderness and joyfully hunt down a fox.

Photo by Asher Svidensky

We had to pinch ourselves to remember that the film is a documentary and not a scripted female-empowerment flick from Disney. Filmmaker Otto Bell was inspired to make this film after seeing a photo on the internet in 2014. Bell secured the rights to the story, and traveled to Mongolia to witness Nurgaiv and her dad capturing the young eagle with which she trains, and teams for the rest of the movie. The film offers visual delight – featuring drone camerawork that allows viewers to soar high above the Mongolian landscape, a glimpse of a colorful culture wholly different from ours, and a true-life heroine who commands the screen with a pixie grin and athletic grace.

Let her sunny grit inspire your girls (and boys) this year!