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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Eagle Huntress is a documentary about an extraordinary 13-year-old named Aisholpan Nurgai, who strives to become the first female eagle hunter in 12 generations of her nomadic Mongolian tribe's history. Her story will encourage girls to see that there doesn't have to be any limit to what they can accomplish -- and that with dedication, perseverance, and discipline, they can enter fields traditionally dominated by men. There's no strong language (though there are some subtitles to read), sex, or substance use, but tweens and up are the ideal audience. Little kids may have trouble with the frank depiction of hunting. With her father's guidance and her grandfather and mother's blessing, Aisholpan overcomes many obstacles to make her dreams come true. She also challenges stereotypes by being a fierce, courageous, focused hunter, as well as feminine (she loves bows and nail polish). This powerful, inspiring documentary, narrated and produced by Daisy Ridley, is a film that all children -- regardless of gender -- should see.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
Narrated by breakout Star Wars: The Force Awakens actress Daisy Ridley, THE EAGLE HUNTRESS is the story of Kazakh 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv's quest to become the first female eagle hunter in 12 generations of her nomadic Mongolian family's history. To help her master the skill -- which dates back over 12 generations of practice -- Aisholpan's father (himself a champion eagle hunter) dedicates himself to training and supporting her, even though other male eagle hunters think it's wrong for a girl to try. With his help, Aisholpan captures and trains her first golden eaglet. Together they set a goal for her to enter the annual Golden Eagle Festival of Mongolia competition, in which a champion eagle hunter is named each year.
Is it any good?
As this inspiring documentary proves, girls can do anything, including becoming the first female eagle hunter in the 1,000-year history of her family's tribe. Filmmaker Otto Bell's debut documentary feels particularly timely, coming out in a year (2016) when women's role in society is being discussed far and wide. The involvement of Ridley, who played girl-power icon Rey in Star Wars, feels especially significant as a result. And so does Sia's; her award-worthy original song for the movie, "Angel by the Wings," features the refrain "You can do anything" again and again. But the real star, of course, is Aisholpan, who's simply remarkable.
She's sweet and friendly; she loves painting her nails and wearing glittery bows in her braids. But she's also completely focused, fearless, and ready to do what it takes to become the next eagle hunter in her family -- even if she's bucking a millennium of patriarchal tradition. But Aisholpan's story is also the story of her father, who could have easily discouraged her interest in and gift for hunting and waited for her younger brother to come of age and train him instead. The father-daughter bond is remarkable, and Aisholpan's hardworking mom clearly wants her lovely, clever daughter to do what makes her happy. You couldn't ask for better parental role models. Although a couple of moments seem a bit staged, and the hunting sequences are clearly edited for maximum dramatic tension, The Eagle Huntress soars as it shows viewers exactly why girls and women should never be underestimated.
Talk to your kids about ...
Talk about the parent-child relationships in the movie. What makes Aisholpan's relationship with her father notable? What does it teach viewers about the importance of strong bonds between parents and kids?
Why do you think the elders won't accept Aisholpan's quest to be a master eagle hunter? How is she pioneering in her attempt?
What message does the movie send about the part that tradition plays in defining "male" and "female" roles? Why is it such a big deal that Aisholpan is a girl?
- In theaters: November 2, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 7, 2017
- Cast: Daisy Ridley, Aisholpan
- Director: Otto Bell
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, Wild Animals
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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