2019 | Documentary | 90 minutes | In Macedonian, Turkish, and Bosnian with English subtitles
Hatidze Muratova lives with her ailing mother in an isolated village in North Macedonia where there are no roads, electricity or running water. After harvesting the honey into small batches, she treks four hours by foot and train to Skopje, the capital, to sell her superior-quality honey. She has great tenderness and compassion for the bees, always leaving some of the hives behind. Her policy is “half for them, half for me.” Hatidze’s peaceful life is disrupted when a family with rambunctious children moves nearby. The patriarch, Hussein, brings cows, chickens, and disturbs the natural order of things in his drive for economic success. He’s not altogether a villain but a man with a need to support a large family. But soon the relation between Hussein and Hatidze deteriorates. It’s a controversy so relevant today: Shall we accept the pursuit of profit with no regard for the fragile environment?
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 99%
- Metacritic Score: 86
Academy Awards: Selected as North Macedonia’s entry for Best International Feature Film
Sundance Film Festival: Winner, World Cinema Grand Jury Prize; Special Jury Award, Cinematography; Special Jury Award for Originality
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In this terrific documentary shot in North Macedonia, a woman tending wild hives is rattled by her new, disruptive neighbors. HONEYLAND really is a miraculous feat, shot over three years as if by invisible camera—not a single furtive glance is directed towards the filmmakers.
The directors, Stefanov and Kotevska, have done more than record the rhythms and textures of rural life. They have shaped their observations—more than 400 hours of footage—into a luminous neorealist fable, a sad and stirring tale of struggle, persistence and change. A documentary about a Macedonian beekeeper’s conflict with her neighbors becomes a lyrical environmental fable.
The documentary’s human subjects are not the only stars. More credit should go to the movie’s cinematographers, Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma, who brave getting close to wild hives of untamed bees with a steady hand. They capture a sense of the bees’ microscopic world as they lap up leftover honey, climb out of the water and try to move one of their own after it stops flying. There’s enough human drama in HONEYLAND to interest even some of the more bee-phobic viewers.
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