When I first saw The Eagle Huntress
at TIFF this year, I wrote that I might have seen the perfect documentary. It’s got all the elements: incredibly charismatic protagonists, majestic landscapes, underlying social issues, and a classic David and Goliath tale. In this case our "David" is actually a 13-year-old girl named Aisholpan who is determined to learn the dangerous art of hunting game with eagles in the frozen wilderness—and the "Goliath" is the 12-generation-long eagle-hunting tradition that has never, ever allowed a female to participate. Fortunately,
Aisholpan's father—a champion eagle hunter himself— agrees to train her,
despite objections of the community elders.
"I think it's really important that you choose projects that you can live with for a long time because so much of the work starts when the film is finished." -Stacey Reiss
The story behind the film is almost as dramatic as its subject. I interviewed Director Otto Bell at TIFF about the Herculean production efforts that his small crew underwent to shoot the sweeping film in the mountains of Mongolia. The conversation in this podcast picks up where we left off. Otto Bell and I are joined by producer Stacey Reiss, who came on to shepherd the project to completion when Bell already had an amazing story on his hands, but had run entirely out of resources. Reiss was hand-picked by Executive Producer Morgan Spurlock due in part to her impressive track record with films like Suited, The Diplomat, and Lena Dunham’s It’s Me, Hilary.
We discuss the film's year of post-production and distribution adventures, from running a team of post-production translators in Kazhakstan, to getting EP Daisy Ridley on board just shy of their Sundance premiere, to the workload any filmmaker can expect to take on after your film is in the can.
For every producer, there is a cameraman, there is an editor, there are people who are just as eager as you to get going. Just club together and you're unstoppable." -Otto Bell
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