From directors Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov comes Honeyland, a heartbreaking documentary that on the surface seems like an innocuous human-interest piece but as you go deeper has a poignancy that stays with you until well after the credits have rolled.
In the rugged terrain of regional Macedonia, we are introduced to beekeeper Hatidze. A middle-aged woman who has nurtured beehives for decades. Using ancient methods, she lives a humble life with her 85-year-old mother with no electricity or running water. It really is like living in the dark ages.
We are invited into Hatidze’s home, watch as she tirelessly tends to the honeycombs that provide her living and sells it at the markets. Hatidze is an extroverted character. From haggling in the markets, to scolding her mother and sharing her intimate bee knowledge with the seasonal farming family that frequent her surrounds, you can tell that she enjoys sharing her story and has a love of people.
The way she lives is a far cry from a Western way of living and utterly fascinating. It was like seeing how people lived centuries ago and preparing for the harsh winter and the wildlife that comes along with it.
What’s great about Honeyland is that it plays out like a fictional movie, despite it being the culmination of three years of footage. Haditze being the protagonist, and the conflict she experiences with the seasonal farming family as the antagonist’s in her narrative.
It showed human nature at it’s most raw. Where survival is your main instinct and where people make decisions that aren’t necessarily for the greater good but will benefit a small group in the short term. It showed how capitalist greed can affect the balance of nature which is so precious and how this can bring catastrophe.
It really makes you want to protect the natural resources that we have and hold on to ancient cultures and practices before they disappear.
Honeyland is a must-see documentary and there is no surprise it has won multiple awards including the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Winner for World Cinema – Documentary.
You can see Honeyland as part of the OzAsia Festival with screenings at the Mercury Cinema on Fri, Oct 25 2019 and Sun, Nov 3 2019. Get your tickets here now.