To see a heartening example of affectionate parents encouraging their daughter to develop her talents, even if it flies in the face of masculine tradition, we need look no farther than Mongolia. That’s where this grin-inducing documentary by Otto Bell introduces us to Aisholpan, a happy 13-year-old who idolizes her father and wants to follow in his footsteps as one who uses trained eagles to hunt foxes and rabbits. This ancient tradition has always been men-only, but Aisholpan, her father, her mother and even her eagle-hunter grandfather don’t care. (A montage of stern village elders citing the usual sexist reasons for their disapproval is pointedly funny.) Like a Hollywood underdog story, the film is edited and scored with an eye for drama and humor, as Aisholpan and her dad capture an eaglet (a daring mission in itself), practice for a regional competition and ultimately go hunting for real. Bell showcases the harsh natural beauty of western Mongolia and conveys the rigors of eagle hunting, but his main focus is a young girl’s blissful empowerment under the tutelage of her proud father. You’ll be proud, too.
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