Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s film is particularly touching with its photography which captures the beauty and immensity of Macedonian countries.
Welcome to Bekirliya, a village in the depths of Macedonia where the inhabitants can be counted on the fingers of one hand. This is where takes us Honeyland, the award-winning documentary, performed by Macedonian duo Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov. In 2020, it was nominated for two Oscars – best documentary and best foreign film – and won the Grand Jury Prize at the American Sundance Film Festival. Honeyland convinces and seduces above all thanks to its splendid photography.
Hatidze is the woman with the bees. She and her mother Nazife, 85, are the last inhabitants of Bekirliya, a village that seems light years away from modern civilization. Hatidze is one of the few people who continues to harvest honey in the traditional way. Alone, she goes to the desert mountains of Macedonia to look after the honeycombs hidden in the rocks. Without protection and with only her passion, she seems in perfect communion with the bees.
In addition to her honey, which she will sell in the nearest large town, Hatidze has to take care of her bedridden and blind mother. A tender and touching relationship which is like a common thread in this documentary. Their safe haven, Bekirliya, is disrupted when a Turkish family with their seven children moves to their home. Hatidze befriends the children, but the relationship between neighbors deteriorates when the father of the family, Hussein, begins to produce honey.
Honeyland celebrates traditional agriculture, represented by Hatidze, and wants to denounce the capitalist world embodied by Hussein. If the latter wants to produce as quickly as possible, Hatidze makes sure to always leave half of his honey to the bees, so that they can survive. This confrontation between two ways of understanding nature is the central point of the film. We regret thatHoneyland sometimes focuses too much on these famous neighbors to the detriment of Hatidze that we would have liked to follow at greater length.
The documentary is nonetheless resplendent thanks to its photography which captures the beauty and immensity of the Macedonian countries. The shots are often fixed to give viewers time to admire, and the dialogues – in an ancient local Turkish dialect – few. As you leave the room, the beauty of nature stays in your head and the buzzing bees in your ears.
Genre : Documentary
Directors : Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov
Pays : France
Duration : 1h26
Exit : September 16, 2020
Distributor : KMBO
Synopsis : Hatidze is one of the last people to harvest honey in the traditional way, in the desert mountains of Macedonia. Without any protection and with passion, she commune with the bees. She takes only the honey needed to earn a modest living. She makes sure to always leave half of it to her bees, to preserve the fragile balance between Man and nature.