The Eagle Huntress, directed by Otto Bell and produced in association with Shine Global, made its premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, January 24th, to a standing ovation and the praise hasn’t stopped since.
Film critic Kenneth Turan picked it out as one of his Sundance favorites when talking with NPR’s Steve Inskeep and in his review in the LA Times called the film ” enchanting” and said “falling under its sway is inevitable.” Variety described the film as an “entertaining slice of real-life inspirational adventure.” Melissa Silverstein at Indiewire writes that “this film is my new obsession. Aside from being one of the most beautifully shot movies I have ever seen, this movie tells an incredible story of the first-ever girl trained to be an Eagle Hunter.” And Deadline describes the film as “one of the best reviewed docus of 2016 Sundance” saying “what director Otto Bell captured on screen is unprecedented.”
The documentary tells the story of Aisholpan, a 13-year-old Mongolian girl who wants to become the first female Eagle Hunter in 2,000 years of male-dominated history. Under the tutelage and support of her father, she learns the traditions of being an Eagle Hunter, including capturing and training her very own eagle to compete against men from all over the country in the annual Golden Eagle Festival. Aisholpan and her parents made the trip from Mongolia to Park City, Utah to be there for the premiere and were certainly one of the highlights of the many festival events. As Aisholpan couldn’t bring her own eagle, White Wings, all the way from Mongolia, members of the Commanche tribe in Oklahoma were able to bring eagles for demonstrations throughout the week.
Just before the premiere, Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley signed on as an Executive Producer to help bring her clout to promote the film. Said Ridley: “I was deeply moved by Aisholpan’s story and wanted to be a part of this beautiful film. I feel audiences and young girls around the world will be as inspired by her story as I was, and I am so proud to share her journey with the world.”
To cap off the successful Sundance run as the first documentary to premiere in the Sundance Kids section, Sony Pictures Classics acquired North American rights to The Eagle Huntress, in a deal that includes select international territories as well including Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Germany, Scandinavia and Asia. SPC will plot a significant theatrical release for the film. In addition, several companies are also negotiating for the right to turn Aisholpan’s story into an animated feature, with plans for Ridley to provide the voice for the young heroine.