Honeyland follows Hatidze Muratova, a middle aged beekeeper in Macedonia.
Most documentaries will leave you angry and frustrated, and yearning for change. They present a story of something or someone who was dealt a difficult hand, and the struggle that occurred can often be heartbreaking. When the credits roll, we hope that something can be changed- that legislation is made to help people, or someone’s legacy becomes well renowned. We hope that something happens to give someone peace in some form or another. Honeyland is a different situation. It’s a story that is beautiful and at times heartbreaking, but is full of hope in a way that is more often seen in fictional films.
Directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, the film examines the life of Hatidze Muratova. Hatidze is believed to be the last female bee-hunter in Europe, and works throughout the year to collect honey from handmade hives. Her life is turned upside down when a nomadic family takes up land next to her home. The family, led by it’s patriarch Hussein Sam, consists of Hussein, his wife, and their seven children. The Sam family also brings in an entire herd of cows, and multiple vehicles. Hatidze worries that the family will bring chaos, and while they appear to coexist peacefully at first- the family soon causes havoc with Hatidze and her way of life.
The film ends with the Sam family leaving the space near Hatidze, and the wonderful woman having to essentially start much of her life over again. It could be a sad note, but the film presents it with hope. Hatidze continues to work with bees, and has a chance to truly live a new and beautiful life of her own. She may have faced some downfalls while the Sam family resided next to her, but she is strong, smart and resilient. Hatidze may seem like some simple poor woman living in between mountains. But she is a powerful woman, who has proven throughout the film that she can do amazing things, and is more intelligent than she looks.
Honeyland touches on other major themes like climate change, mortality, and the exploitation of natural resources. But its strength lies in the story of Hatidze Muratova. This is a fly-on-the-wall style documentary that does more by letting us see it all play out as is. The film could have commented on Hatidze and her way of life, but by showing us everything as is, it becomes stronger, and sends a more powerful message of hope and strength. It’s a beautiful film that sticks with you long after it’s over, and Hatidze herself will remain with you as long as any fictional film characters would.
Honeyland is currently streaming on Hulu.
Written by Alex Lancaster
(Alex is a life long film fan, and has dedicated his life to watching, making and obsessing over films. His favorite film is Big Fish, and he despises Avatar. He has a 5 year old son. And a bad habit of saying more than he needs to. Follow @alex5348 on Twitter)