This short narrative film is reminiscent of a documentary, in that the viewer is taken into the heart of Mongolia and given a front row seat as a man tries to get his falcon healthy. In just a few minutes, we learn about the sport of falconry, the struggles of traveling, and the unique combination of cultures old and new.
How did you decide to make this film?
It all started from a picture I saw of an eagle on a bus. I thought, “Wow, an eagle on a bus. I want to know more.” So I did quite a bit of research and there seemed to be a lot of Mongolian eagle hunters, particularly in traditional dress, and whilst their stories were intriguing and the imagery stunning, they didn’t quite inspire me in the way an eagle fits into someone’s life outside the pomp and ceremony of a big hunt or outside of a very traditional context.
To me, it seems almost like using the fictional format to tell somewhat of a documentary-like story about normal people in an interesting country doing traditional sports. Was that the intent?
Yes, well sort of. I wanted to make a story from something simple, to embrace the landscape and look at the relationship between a man and his companion. Whilst the look and a certain amount of the story have a strong element of documentary about them, I approached the filming very much with a narrative intent. Shot selection, structure, etc. The sport element of it serves as a vehicle to explore the relationship and bond a person can have with an animal. That’s the theme, albeit very subtle.
Shooting falconry must have been an amazing opportunity as a filmmaker. Did you have any experience with it before? Was it challenging?
I’ve filmed with birds before, in my day job as a commercials director. They have always been trained and it’s always a marvel to watch what a bird can be asked to do on command. This eagle belongs to Talgar and he has had it for quite a few years. In fact it was raised originally by Sary Ata who is also in the film towards the end. The only real issue was with the bird wanting to kill things, which happens when the hood is off.
What do you hope will happen with this film and what is your next project?
My next project is another short film. More narrative and dialogue heavy this time. What happens with Talgar the Hunter? I’m not sure. There was never an end goal, I just wanted to make something in a slightly longer format than I am used to. It will live on my website and I’m happy if people enjoy it.