Onward is an incredibly beautiful and intimate short documentary about a man named Konki and his family who live in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia. When Konki was 29 he felt that the passion his late father had for eagle hunting had begun to call on him. This changed his life and he has since been committed to learning the ancient art and preserving the tradition.

Cale Glendening demonstrates an eagle eye for film making, showing his visual prowess through awe-inspiring slow motion shots. They give us time to soak up the spectacle of a gigantic bird of prey beating its wings while perched on a traditionally dressed hunter’s arm, just one of many awe-inspiring shots on display. The opportunity to collect images such as these on film is very rare and must be made the most of and Glendening certainly got the very best footage possible.

Through a gravelly yet ethereal narration we are told a wonderful story which began thousands of years ago with the birth of eagle hunting, more exactly we learn of Konki’s story, a man preserving an important tradition. An immense soundscape is created through the original score, by Tony Anderson, and sparsely used voiceover. Combined they create a mystical sensation in a film that radiates quiet wisdom.

This film feels as if we were being shown a photographic documentary; the ways in which the landscape, faces, houses and animals are utilised is so gorgeous that it deserves to be celebrated on the silver screen like this. Often documentary can feel very clinical with only the purpose of education. Onward is full of life, tradition and beauty. Even in its brief existence we are given access to a small culture’s existence and a man’s most honest heart-break and deep love for his family.

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INFORMATION

CAST: Konki, Onei, Berdibek, Odbayar Batchuluun (voiceover)

DIRECTOR: Cale Glendening

ORIGINAL SCORE: Tony Anderson

SYNOPSIS: Konki and his family live near Deluun Village, in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia, where the last six generations of his bloodline have continued the art and tradition of eagle hunting. There are few things more beautiful than discovering who you were meant to be by honoring where you’ve come from.