Aisholpan is her name, the thirteen-year-old Mongolian girl whose bright spirit has captivated the imaginations of countless moviegoers around the country in the documentary, The Eagle Huntress (2016).

Aside from her pigtails tied with pink ribbons and her lavender nail polish, and aside from her scholastic excellence at the boarding school she attends five days each week, she lives for White Wings, a golden eaglet she captures from a precipitous cliff in the steppes. Under the tutelage of her father Nurgaiv, a champion eagle hunter, she nurtures her pet until mature enough to train as a hunter for rabbits, foxes, and wolves: for centuries affording their people food and clothing for their nomadic lifestyle.

However for twelve generations such hunting had been a father-son endeavor, until Nurgaiv persuades the elders otherwise, and Aisholpan’s training begins for the Golden Eagle Festival in Olgii, a provincial Mongolian capitol. Garbed in traditional fur and embroidered hunting gear and sitting tall on her horse with White Wings on her arm, her father riding next to her, she confronts dauntless challenges with grace. It’s as if the same spirit endues both girl and bird, pushing them into the impossible and we with them. Such striving supersedes words.

As the documentary concludes, the inspiring lyrics written and sung by the Australian Sia, “Angel by the Wings,” challenges the audience that indeed, “You can do anything.”

This documentary is playing at both the Plaza Frontenac and Tivoli Theaters in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

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