Fly west from the United States until you reach tomorrow. When you make it as far as the northwest corner of China, turn right. Touch down in the Altai Mountains region of Mongolia. There, you will find a 13-year-old girl expressing her equal rights.
In the documentary “The Eagle Huntress,” only men enter the annual Golden Eagle Festival … until Aisholpan shows up with the eagle her father helped her capture and train. To say this girl is adorable refers as much to her desire to get an education and her can-do spirit as it does about her exotic Mongolian attire and round rosy face.
Dad comes from many generations of men-only eagle hunters. He helps his daughter become strong, resilient, adventurous, unbound. Old men of this proud culture grumble, but this film isn’t about tense controversy. It’s about time.
The backdrop of this far away, modern story plays cinematically grand in the clear air and panoramic vistas. The film visits a girl in school, at home doing chores, and scrambling on a cliff ledge to grab a young eaglet. It swoops down on the big hunt-simulating competition and ascends to crisp, challenging winter where real hunting happens.
Part of the ready satisfaction is that this film unfolds almost like a narrative, formula filmmaking tale rather than a documentary account. One might accuse it of being a bit glossy, but as movie going experiences go, why not spend a couple hours with an off-the-beaten-track, good-feeling example of the world’s heading in a better direction.
Set aside the Star Wars rehash called “Rogue One,” which can boast a half billion dollars in revenues warp driven by distribution to four thousand theaters. Fill your glass half full with a trip to see the deserving commercial success of “Hidden Figures,” an equal-rights charmer (and significant historical footnote) that was distributed to three thousand theaters. Then, seek out one of less than two hundred theaters where “The Eagle Huntress” takes an endearing turn on the beams of movie light.