The last place you’d expect a Donald Trump reference to creep up is the freezing wilderness of East Asia but, alas, the director of the documentary “The Eagle Huntress” found one.
Otto Bell’s “Huntress” tells of 13-year-old Aisholpan, who lives in a gorgeous but remote area of Mongolia near the Chinese border. Her family has a long tradition of forefathers who train eagles to hunt prey during the winter, and she wants in on the family business — but her elders scoff at the idea of a girl joining their ranks.
“I’m particularly cognizant of all this poisonous locker room talk that’s milling about right now,” Bell said Wednesday night after a screening of the film, which was part of TheWrap’s Awards & Foreign Screening Series.
“I’m really glad this film is coming out right. I think it’s an antidote,” the director continued.
Indeed, if the conversations about women and their treatment in American society have been taxing these past few weeks, “Eagle Huntress” is pure triumph for a girl — both in the power structures of her community and in the fierce physical landscape she must learn to survive in.
“There were many people, when she first started to train her eagle, who said, ‘This is not right. This is not an activity that you should do. You’re not a man,'” a translator for Aisholpan, now 15, said during a Q&A following the film.
“She was a little bit disappointed, but her father was still supportive of her and said, ‘Ignore others,’ and that was how she could come through all of this.”
Bell said Aisholpan is a disruptor at her core.
“In her corner of the world, it is a man’s domain. Women are respected, but they’re respected insofar that they run the household … the men work outside. That’s the division of labor and the balance of power — Aisholpan upset that,” Bell said.
The young woman will eventually leave home to pursue a medical degree, but not for two more years. In her remaining time at home, she’ll be out in the wilderness with her eagle.
Watch the clip above for more with the cast and filmmakers of “The Eagle Huntress.”
The film will hit limited theaters on Nov. 2.