Sony Pictures Classics Buys The Eagle Huntress After Successful Sundance Premiere


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.


Shine Global attached to new doc The Eagle Huntress

Eagle Huntress take flightShine Global is happy to announce it is attached to the upcoming documentary feature The Eagle Huntress, the spellbinding story of Aisholpan, a 13-year-old nomad girl in Mongolia who is striving to become the first female Eagle Hunter in 2,000 years of male-dominated history.

The film’s director, Otto Bell, was inspired by the photographs of Asher Svidensky. Described as “Amazing” by the BBC, “Dream-like” by National Geographic, and “Stunning” by the Huffington Post, the self-funded photo essay quickly went viral when it was released in April 2014. Bell optioned the rights and says he “immediately felt a sense of responsibility to carefully bring Aisholpan’s inspiring story to life through film.”

Shine’s Executive Director Susan MacLaury, who will serve as an Executive Producer on the film, said, “We wanted to become involved in this film as soon as we heard the inspirational story of Aisholpan and saw the beautiful and sensitive way Otto was telling her story. We were also immediately struck by the way in which Aisholpan’s journey symbolizes a broader struggle for female equality. Our hope is that by sharing her story with girls and boys around the world, we will contribute to the movement for girls’ and women’s empowerment.”

“Working with the lovely team at Shine Global has been a genuine joy for me,” added Bell.  “It helps that they are a kind, thoughtful and well-connected bunch; but the real reason I think it’s going so well is because my subject matter maps so well to their mission. Indeed, we are both equally determined to produce a profoundly beautiful film that will also serve as an inspiring rallying cry for female empowerment.”

Bell has nearly completed principal photography in the remote Altai Mountains of North Western Mongolia and despite filming in one of the most isolated regions in the world, The Eagle Huntress cuts no corners when it comes to production standards. The majority of the footage has been shot in 4K, capturing sweeping footage of the otherworldly Mongolian landscape. These soaring signature sequences are complemented by grounded character study, which reveals an idiosyncratic slice of life that is rich in intimate moments, natural dialogue, and heartwarming humor.

Shine Global is serving as the film’s fiscal sponsor and is accepting donations to complete its production.

Otto Bell is currently the creative director of Ogilvy Entertainment and founder of Kissaki Films. He has directed over 15 short documentaries as far afield as Egypt, Japan, Uganda, and Vietnam for brands such as IBM, Philips, and DuPont. He has also created and produced award-winning world affairs programming for the likes of BBC World News, CNBC, and Times of India.

About Shine Global
Shine Global is a non-profit film production company dedicated to ending the exploitation and abuse of children worldwide through the production of films that raise awareness, promote action, and inspire change. Shine’s films include the Academy Award®-winning Inocente, the Academy Award®-nominated Emmy winner War/Dance, and most recently, 1 Way Up in 3D.