Northumberland filmmaker’s documentary misses out on Bafta

Otto Bell with The Eagle Huntress, Aisholpan Nurgaiv.

Otto Bell with The Eagle Huntress, Aisholpan Nurgaiv.

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A Northumberland filmmaker’s debut feature-length documentary missed out on a prestigious Bafta tonight.

Otto Bell, who was born and bred in the Alnwick area, directed and produced the breathtaking feature, The Eagle Huntress. The fascinating film follows 13-year-old Aisholpan, as she trains to become the first girl in 12 generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter.

Earlier this year, the film was nominated for a Bafta. It was in contention to win the Documentary category and was up against four other titles: 13th; The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years; Notes On Blindness; and Weiner. But at tonight's award ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall, in London, it was announced that 13th - about the US criminal justice system - had taken the best documentary prize.

It is the second major prize that The Eagle Huntress has missed out on, having also been an Oscar contender. Towards the end of last year, the film was one of 15 titles to advance to the shortlist of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ feature documentary competition for this month’s Oscars, having been whittled down from 145. But in January, it was announced that The Eagle Huntress was not among the final five nominees for the category for the Oscars ceremony on Sunday, February 26, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The five nominees are OJ: Made in America; 13th; I Am Not Your Negro; Fire at Sea; and Life Animate.

Otto, 35, works for CNN in New York. The documentary has grossed more than $2.5million at the US box office and is also being shown in UK cinemas. It was screened at Alnwick Playhouse in January. Last year, Otto was named by Variety magazine as one of 10 directors to watch in 2017.

Aisholpan Nurgaiv is The Eagle Huntress. Photograph by Sony Pictures Classics

Aisholpan Nurgaiv is The Eagle Huntress. Photograph by Sony Pictures Classics