Film Review – Honeyland (2019)

Title – Honeyland (2019)

Directors – Tamara Kotevska & Ljubomir Stefanov (feature debuts)

Cast – Hatidze Muratova, Nazife Muratova, Hussein Sam, Ljutvie Sam

Plot – Macedonian beekeeper/beehunter Hatidze Muratova lives a quiet life in rural surrounds with her ailing mother Nazife and her beloved bee’s but she finds life taking an unexpectedly tough turn when a Turkish family moves in next door, a move that threatens her bee’s and her way of life.

“Take half, leave half”

Review by Eddie on 07/04/2020

The little film that could, Honeyland was this year nominated in both the Best Documentary and Best International Feature categories at the Oscars (the very first film to ever achieve such a double act) as Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov 3 years in the making doco strikes a fascinating balance between narrative storytelling that just so happens to exist in a documentary format.

Starting out life as an examination and exploration of the life of lowly Macedonian beehunter Hatidze Muratova, who is purported to be the last female worker in her field, but morphing into something far more dramatic, troubling and heartbreaking as Hatidze’s life is turned upside down by a Turkish family and their bees upsetting her way of doing things as they move in next door, Honeyland isn’t always an easy watch or a film that is in any great type of rush but its unique main protagonist and stunning imagery makes it a film worthy of the hype.

The type of documentary that you have to keep reminding yourself is real and also one of the doco’s where you can’t even fathom how the filmmakers managed to score such cinematic shots or moments of grace, horror or beauty, Honeyland is a massive announcement of both Kotevska and Stefanov as major new talents in the international movie making scene, as their passion project arrives into the world as a fully formed piece of art that is sure to capture hearts and minds from all wakes of life.

One of those cases of the universe’s threads all coming together in perfect cohesion, the directing duo can count themselves lucky they came across Hatidze and her ailing mother Nazife in the rural surrounds of remote Europe as both likable ladies make for honest and raw subject matters whose ability to keep on going even in the face of incredible adversity is inspiring and heartening in equal measure.

It’s not to say Honeyland is always an easy watch, as Hatidze’s topsy turvey relationship with her new neighbours the Sam’s covers all spectrums of emotions from loveable, despicable and scary and there will be many that find it hard to watch Hatidze’s simple yet decent life descend into a complicated situation, that mirrors in many ways the way in which the world as we know it is constantly moving forward into a direction that will likely change the way in which we all live for the worse.

Final Say –

A distinctly different documentary that at times feels like it can’t possibly be, Honeyland is not as refined or polished as we have come to expect from the increasingly popular medium of storytelling but its respectful approach to a fascinating subject and its real life participants makes it well worth a look.

3 ½ boxes of hair dye out of 5

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