The last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and return the natural balance in Honeyland, when a family of nomadic beekeepers invade her land and threaten her livelihood. This ...
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The last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and return the natural balance in Honeyland, when a family of nomadic beekeepers invade her land and threaten her livelihood. This film is an exploration of an observational Indigenous visual narrative that deeply impacts our behavior towards natural resources and the human condition.
Ljubo Stefanov and Tarmara Kotevska's HONEYLAND, an entrancing triple Sundance award winner is a stunning verite documentary. It plays so intimately, and with such verisimilitude that it feels almost like a narrative film. Our 'lead actress' is Hatidze, a lonely bee farmer of Turkish descent in the remote hills of Macedonia. She occasionally ventures into the larger town below to sell her high quality pure honey -- and to pick up a few provisions. Her only other companion is her frail mother Natife, who she cares for in their ramshackle hut. The scenes between them are so tender and detailed that it becomes almost unbearably palpable at times, whether it's the daughter gently tending to her blind eye, talking about marrying off the mid-50s woman, or sharing a meager meal of a single banana.
Their isolated like is loudly broken up by the arrival of a large itinerant family who comes with and even larger assembly of livestock. At first, Hatidze and the families head, Hussein, try and get along. The numerous children provide some comfort and companionship to the beekeeper. Finding out how much money Hatidze gets for her premium nectar, Hussein latches onto the idea of harvesting bees himself. Inevitably, tension and hardship follow.
What is most remarkable about HONEYLAND is that even though it functions as almost a narrative drama, none of it feels forced or constructed. The camerawork is particularly effective as the two cinematographers Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma bring us right into the scene whether it be spotting a single bee buzzing on a dripping honeycomb, Hatidze fingers gently touching her mother's face or the birth of a cow, the viewer is there. There aren't any fancy cuts or montages. The music is sparse, if noticeable at all, save for some scratchy source music that plays on an old radio attached to a homemade antenna trying to barely capture some signal from the world below.
HONEYLAND depicts a couple of significant events in Hatidze's life, but they aren't overly emphasized. They just play out, like simple steps in a life. The Documentary ends without triumph or tragedy - but, just a quite moment of solitude. Neither Hatidze, nor the viewer, knows what her fate may be, but, we do believe, she'll persevere.
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