If you have a thirteen year old who is feeling picked on because things aren't going exactly as planned, please take that youngster to see this movie. The only qualification will be the ability to read a few captions unless he or she speaks Kazakh!. This documentary features a 13-year-old girl in Kazakhstan who wants to be the first girl in twelve generations to become a master eagle hunter. There are contests every year and her father has won three times and placed in the top five during the past five years, so when he agrees to teach her, she is working with the best.
This 87-minute G-rated family film has plenty to recommend it: scenery in a place none of us have visited, a subsistence lifestyle that is new to us (they raise, slaughter and eat their own food), and the accumulated knowledge that goes into being an eagle hunter; are all unknown to me. The first hair-raising episode illustrated the skill and knowledge it takes to CAPTURE an eglet in the first place! I found myself checking the ropes and knots as carefully as her father did. I learned far more than I expected about the eagles, the horses, the lifestyle and the contest.
Director Otto Bell features two women:
You have NEVER seen such breathtaking scenery or have beheld such tough, solitary figures in such a vast, unforgiving landscape. The sturdy little horses (Mongolian ponies) are tough and courageous. It's fun to watch them hold their own amid the jeeps, trucks, and Bactrian (two-humped) camels. WE had to smile at the way the judges held up their numbered cards to vote. It looked like Dancing With the Stars. Then it was a surprise to learn that she STILL doesn't qualify until she and her eagle have proven their skills in a real-life hunt.
There is so much I haven't mentioned. Suffice it to say, this documentary will stay with you for a long time and you'll be the richer for it.