The Eagle Huntress A Girl, A Dream, and the Courage to Let Nothing Stop Her is brought to you by Sony Pictures. #ad
It’s a story best told by SONY Pictures in their documentary THE EAGLE HUNTRESS. Imagine being the only girl on the team, the one who has to prove herself over and over. Not just the first girl this year, this decade, but for hundreds of years.
It’s a story with which my daughter can relate.
Last summer MacKenzie was the only girl on the soccer team. That first day she came home feeling defeated. The boys were skilled and dominated.
I cuddled her as she cried and then told her, “This is your chance to shine. Pushback. Dig deep. Prove Yourself.”
She didn’t want to go back the second day, but I told her she committed when we signed up, and she was going to finish the week. With that, she went and came home feeling on top of the world. She found her groove. She dug deep and found something that made her stand out from the others. She now counts this week at soccer camp as one of the best weeks of her life.
Now imagine, you’re the first girl wanting to do something that has been dominated by men for twelve generations. Imagine being 13-years old and wanting to compete against the 70 best in the craft. This is the story of Aisholpan, a 13-year old girl, who trains to become the first female of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter. Can she rise to the pinnacle of a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for centuries?
We watched Sony Pictures The Eagle Huntress together.
The film was shot against a breathtaking expanse of the Mongolian steppe. It was interesting because we had gone to the Genghis Khan Exhibit for MacKenzie’s birthday and learned about the life of the Mongolian nomads. One of the things that stood out to MacKenzie is the role the women played in the culture.
THE EAGLE HUNTRESS is a documentary, giving this intimate tale of a young girl’s quest the dramatic force of an epic narrative film. The film is produced and narrated by Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Rey” (Daisy Ridley).
The day we watched the film, MacKenzie had learned about stereotypes at school. We’ve been having this discussion for awhile. She has listened to Charlotte the Great talk about the day she could wear pants (instead of dresses), Women’s Right’s to vote, Amelia Earhart, and so much more. Things we tend to take for granted and forget, someone, a single person, was brave enough to stand out and prove to the world that women can do anything.
Aisholpan’s home is a yurt in the hills of Mongolia. There are no modern conveniences. She doesn’t own a cell phone. They work hard, tending livestock, cooking, cleaning and doing chores. During the week Aisholpan and her siblings go to school and stay the week in a dormitory with other children. Aisholpan cares for her siblings while away. It is something MacKenzie didn’t quite understand. “When does she get to have quiet time just to herself?”
While it is a different culture, MacKenzie did declare, “Aisholpan and I would be besties! She likes all the same things I do! She paints her fingernails. She plays volleyball. She smiles a lot.”
The comparisons would be made throughout the film as we followed Aisholpan’s journey.
MacKenzie recognized that she and Aisholpan have parents who believe in their children and are willing to help them follow their dreams.
Immediately Aisholpan’s father recognizes her talent and passion for caring for his Eagle. She says she, too, wants to be an Eagle Hunter. It’s unheard of in their culture, but he tells her the eagle can only have one master, and therefore, they must find her an eagle of her own.
Father and daughter head out into the vastness of Mongolia and her father points out an eagle’s nest high in the cliffs. He shows her there are two, and one of them can be hers. We watch as he ties a rope around his daughter and she drops down the steep, jagged cliffs, into an eagle’s nest with two eaglets. The mother circle’s overhead.
With the eagle, the two head back to their home, where Aisholpan’s father speaks to his father, asking him to give Aisholpan his blessing. He is aware that 12 generations of men have proceeded his daughter. He is mindful of the fact that the elders disagree with a woman hunter.
The elders have made it clear a woman’s place is “preparing tea and water” and “women are supposed to stay indoors and quarrel for gifts and parties, while men are meant for the outdoors, and we quarrel for the catch.”
Aisholpan and her eagle enter the Eagle Competition, where 70 of the very best Eagle Hunters gather to compete for the title. She is the youngest ever to enter, and she is the ONLY girl to have ever entered at the time. She is the FIRST.
A win by her leaves the men explaining away her skill stating that eagles demand courage and respect. That one cannot call themselves an eagle hunter simply by holding an eagle.
For many, the journey ends with conflict, with someone doubting. For Aisholpan, she is not here to challenge traditions, nor to prove anything to anyone. Passion led her here. She captured her eagle; she loves her eagle, trains with her eagle, hunts with her eagle and competes with her eagle.
She heads out into weather 40-degrees below zero to hunt with her eagle and her dad.
The one quality the Aisholpan has that stood out to MacKenzie is that she smiles all the time. She smiles when she fails. She smiles when she succeeds. She smiles. She is positive and doesn’t absorb or reflect negativity of any kind.
Aisholpan has an amazing father who stands up for his daughter. He believes it’s her choice, but does worry that others may think she is strange because she wants to do something only men have done.
My entire family loved this movie, and it has opened so much communication with our children. There is an inspirational message that leaves us all believing we can. There is a historical and cultural aspect that is interesting and a conversation of its own.
MacKenzie found herself truly relating to Aisholpan and while my daughter may not have yet found the passion that drives her, she is building a foundation that lets her know she can do anything, there are no limits to her ability.
Sony Pictures put together The Eagle Huntress Study Guide which offers some great insight into the culture and traditions of Aisholpan’s life and the nomads. We paired the movie and study guide with Instant Pot Mongolian Beef for dinner to set the stage.
The Eale Huntress is currently available on BluRay and DVD or digitally on Amazon video. Visit The Eagle Huntress on Facebook to get more behind the scenes information.
I encourage you to watch this beautiful film and allow it to spark conversation within yourself and family on daring to dream, regardless of gender and living the journey with the passion of Aisholpan.