An engrossing walk through nature and an ancient culture, “Kiran Over Mongolia” follows a young Kazak man through the wilds of western Mongolia, where he traps an eagle and trains it to hunt under the tutelage of an older hunter. Debuting American helmer Joseph Spaid respectfully captures the romantic side of this remote land. Less narrative and intimate than Kazak director Serik Aprymov’s “The Hunter,” another story about a boy learning secrets of nature from an older man, “Kiran” should be easier to place with TV and ancillary, where the quasi-docu could pass as an exotic nature program on falconry.
Though non-pros Kuma Uliksat (the young man) and Khairatkhan Sernedan (an actual seasoned hunter) were hired for the film, once they set off through the snowy steppes on horseback with ancient eagle-trapping gear, they melt into their roles with total conviction. From a two-day hunters’ festival through the capture of a golden eagle (“kiran”) in a net, taming it, and teaching it to hunt fox, they take the viewer through some magic moments lifted from a surprisingly intact cultural tradition.