Honeyland – Медена Земја
In a deserted Macedonian village, Hatidze, a fiftysomething woman in a bright yellow blouse and green headscarf, trudges up a hillside to check her bee colonies nestled in the rocks. Serenading them with a secret chant, she gently maneuvers the honeycomb without netting or gloves. Back at her homestead, Hatidze tends to her handmade hives and her bedridden mother, occasionally heading to the capital to market her wares. One day, an itinerant family installs itself next door, and Hatidze’s peaceful kingdom gives way to roaring engines, seven shrieking children, and 150 cows. Yet Hatidze welcomes the camaraderie, and she holds nothing back—not her tried-and-true beekeeping advice, not her affection, not her special brandy. But soon Hussein, the itinerant family’s patriarch, makes a series of decisions that could destroy Hatidze’s way of life forever.
Every frame of Honeyland pulses with the cycles of life and glows with Hatidze’s magical vitality and optimism. This visually sumptuous, vérité glimpse into a forgotten world is an ode to two endangered and priceless treasures: human decency and the delicate balance of nature.
CATEGORY World Doc
RUN TIME 85 min
COMPANY Trice Films
Where to watch/stream Honeyland
Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska
Producer: Atanas Georgiev
Cinematographers:Fejmi Daut, Samir Ljuma
Editor: Atanas Georgiev
Music By Foltin
Sound: Rana Eid
In Memory Of: Nazife Muratova
Honeyland is not just another documentary film that “got accepted at Sundance.” It is not just another unique and interesting story that we got to tell to the world.
For the small crew that that we were, devotedly spending three years of our lives shooting Honeyland with all our hearts and one another in the editing room, it is certainly a “life school.” The process changed us entirely, as it helped us mature as authors and ultimately made us better human beings.
Yet it’s gorgeously photographed – often only by guttering candles – and its story still has a few things to offer patient viewers. There’s something fascinating, for example, in watching the middle-aged Muratova gather, strain and bottle her honey, trudging into the Macedonian capital of Skopje to sell it for 10 Euros per jar. It’s not much, but after all, how much money does she need? She lives with her elderly mother in a one-room, dirt-floored hut. There’s no power, no indoor plumbing. There aren’t even any neighbours; everyone else abandoned the village years ago.
Through an up-close look at the art of wild beekeeping and one of its last practitioners, a Macedonian documentary explores tradition, loneliness and the relationship between humans and nature.
Stefanov and Kotevska appealingly take a strictly observational approach, inviting the viewer to inhabit Hatidze’s idyllic setting and thereby experience its disruption alongside her. Beautifully shot and perfectly paced, the film takes on an almost fable-like quality as it tells its cautionary tale about the need to live in harmony with nature.
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