Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Movie Going

I don't go to the cinema as much as I go to the theatre but this year I totted up my visits and I've been a respectable 17 trips to the cinema plus one National Theatre Live. This leads me to the first of my 'best of' lists for 2016.

It has to be said that about half of these films were animated and that this year seems to have been an outstanding for this genre.  Favourites here have been varied in topic but I enjoyed them all immensely and it has been hard to narrow it down to my top three - but these are Moana, Zootropolis and Your Name with Kubo and the Two Strings just missing out.

However my top film of the year, and possibly the decade was the incredible Eagle Huntress which I saw on release day. This narrative documentary film follows one family in Mongolia as their 13 year old daughter follows in the family tradition to become an Eagle Hunter. It has a strong feminist message - girls really can do whatever they set their minds to and compete in a men's world and it is also a film about the bond between fathers, grandfathers and daughters.

Aisholpan wants to follow in her father's footsteps, she wants to fly and hunt with Golden Eagles on the steppe in Mongolia, she also wants to be able to compete in the regional competitions showing her skills.  Her traditional (yet progressive) family support her wholeheartedly in this.  We then follow roughly a year in her life as she attains these goals - not without some hardships.

There has been a lot of criticism about this film for being too sentimental and also inaccurate. I don't recall the film saying that she wanted to be the first female huntress, just the first in her family and while any other women huntresses aren't shown at the competition I don't feel that this is against the story - this film is about Aisholpan's dreams. It is of course edited to have a narrative that draws you - that's how all films work.
It is also to be noted that the Mongolian and Kazakh communities do have a long tradition of equality which make Aisholpan's dreams realistic - it is just the Western perception of these different ways of life that need challenging and educating.

As someone who has a strongly supportive family and also a love of flying birds of prey this film really hit a chord with me.  I think that what ever criticism is out there this film should be shown in schools and also in Guide & Scouts units (and other such organisations) as a life affirming film showing that girls can do anything.

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