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A unique film about a Golden Eagle and a Kazakh falconer, exploring people and wildlife, survival, and the nature of freedom.
A unique film about a Golden Eagle and a Kazakh falconer, exploring people and wildlife, survival, and the nature of freedom.
47 backers pledged $4,387 to help bring this project to life.

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Ardak the Eagle Falconer and Balapan, the Golden Eagle, in the summer grazing grounds of western Mongolia, in the Altai Mountains near China
Ardak the Eagle Falconer and Balapan, the Golden Eagle, in the summer grazing grounds of western Mongolia, in the Altai Mountains near China

Please help us fund our last filming trip to Mongolia for 'The Twelfth Eagle,' in order to bring a field assistant and then to edit and finish this film. We've been to Mongolia three times and gotten some fantastic footage, and we're well on our way to finishing the field work. One more trip and we'll have everything--and we really appreciate any help in reaching our goal!  Thank you!!!

The word "Kazakh" means "a free and independent nomad" in ancient Turkic, and a community of these free and independent nomads became part of Mongolia when their summer pastures were included in the boundaries drawn up between Communist Russia and China. Bayan-Ulgii, in the Altai Mountains, is where the Kazakh people still practice their centuries-old tradition of Horseback Eagle Falconry. This remote region of western Mongolia is the location for the film 'The Twelfth Eagle.' Ardak, a Kazakh Eagle Falconer and his Golden Eagle are the central figures of the film. 

Meredith Kennedy, DVM
Meredith Kennedy, DVM

In September 2015 Dr. Meredith Kennedy went on a planning trip to Bayan-Ulgii, attending the Golden Eagle Festival (a UNESCO World Heritage Event) and living with two families of Horseback Eagle Falconers. This laid the groundwork for Meredith to return in February of 2016, with Director of Photography Dr. Carl Palazzolo to start filming the winter portion of the film, since this is when the Golden Eagles are used for hunting. The rabbits and foxes caught by the eagles add to the family's meals and clothing, helping them get through what are some of the most rugged winter conditions in the world (it was twenty below F when we were there in February).

Carl Palazzolo, DVM
Carl Palazzolo, DVM

The summer months are when the wild eagles are raising their chicks, and this is what we were filming in June of 2016. 

Golden eagle chick in a nest in the Altai Mountains
Golden eagle chick in a nest in the Altai Mountains

The Equipment: We took four digital still/video cameras, one cinema digital camcorder, a Go Pro, a Phantom 4 quadcopter, 7 lenses, 4 tripods, two computers, and tons of batteries, memory cards and support equipment. We paid hundreds of dollars in excess baggage fees, but it was worth it because we used everything we brought. We had so much equipment that we needed a film assistant to help bring it all and hand carry fragile cameras on the flights, She also assisted with set up in the field, backed up our video footage after every shoot, and monitored most of the still shots, while Carl did the videography and Meredith worked with the GoPro.

The funds raised from this campaign will help bring young photographic assistants out into the field, providing an unforgettable opportunity for them while giving us the help we need in this remote location. Below is a breakdown of costs for us to bring one assistant to Mongolia, and we hope to bring another for the Golden Eagle Festival Film Shoot. 

 

The mission of this film is to explore the lives of the eagles and the eagle falconers and their unique relationship. The documentary chronicles how their lifestyle is affected by modernization, economics, education, tourism and environmental conditions, and the eagle's story delves into the very nature of humans and wildlife, the philosophy of freedom and choice, and the spiritual realm of dreams and history.

Balapan, the central character, was set free during the making of this film, in keeping with Kazakh tradition.
Balapan, the central character, was set free during the making of this film, in keeping with Kazakh tradition.

The Twelfth Eagle is a unique film in that the story is told from the eagle's perspective, as a way to explore the two worlds of human and wildlife, and how they intersect.

The Wind Horse, a Character in The Twelfth Eagle based on Central Asian Folklore
The Wind Horse, a Character in The Twelfth Eagle based on Central Asian Folklore

Your support not only helps to make the film a reality and make it possible for our film assistants to come, you're helping to improve the lives of the Kazakh families and assistants with whom we work, since we donate a lot of the gear we use in the field, and use a local tour company (Back to Bek Travels). Carl has also been working with the tour company on developing and promoting their business, with plans for a fall tour open to all interested travelers, which includes attending the October 1st & 2nd Golden Eagle Festival. This tour is now full, but tours for the 2017 festival are being offered through Back to Bek Travel.

 We’re hoping to present their story in a comprehensive, thoughtful manner, so Western audiences can better understand people and nature through the lens of eagle falconry. THANK YOU very much for your support!

Future Falconers and Filmmakers
Future Falconers and Filmmakers

 

Risks and challenges

Working with wild animals is a challenge and a great privilege. While we do have a script and a vision, the story ultimately comes from the eagle herself, as we take the lead from her quirks and desires. Her partner (the eagle falconer), the Altai Mountains, the wolf, the history of the Kazakh people and Mongolia; all are in orbit around the Golden Eagle. Although raised from a chick in a human household, Balapan the eagle is still an unpredictable wild animal--she flies when and where she chooses, sometimes where we choose, and she has a very strong personality. Every day of filming with a Golden Eagle is full of challenges and surprises.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    The Balapan

    Thank you for your support! You will receive a personalized post card from Mongolia, and your name will be in the film credits.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    The Eagle Feather

    Thank you for your support! You will receive a postcard from Mongolia, and a digital download of Balapan, the golden eagle. And your name in the film credits!

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The Golden Feather

    Thank you for your support!
    You will get a Golden Eagle deck of cards, and a personalized post card from Mongolia
    this fall when we're there filming.
    And your name in the film credits!

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The Owl Feather

    Thank you for your support!
    You will receive a post card from Mongolia, a signed copy of the DVD, and your name in the film credits.

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    17 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    The Wind Horse

    Thank you for your support! You will receive a postcard from Mongolia and a signed copy of the hardcover photography book, and your name in the film credits.

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Funding period

- (26 days)