When I started watching the documentary I thought it wouldn’t be anything special at all. We’re used to movies where the story unfolds from the very first moment to the end. Drama, suspenseful action, love scenes and crime make modern films popular. But I can tell you that there is no life in these films.
In “Honeyland”, life happens. Maybe it didn’t catch your attention at first, but it’s definitely worth watching until the end. It left me speechless. I just kept watching TV and wondering how wrong my first assessment was.
Hatidže never dreamed of playing the lead role in an Oscar nominated documentary. Her life is about taking care of her mother and finding out how to survive from day to day. She lives in a small stone house without electricity or water, surrounded by hills and wilderness in North Macedonia. His only source of income is beekeeping and also the main reason for taking the train to the capital, Skopje, from time to time to sell honey.
“Take half, leave half.
– Hatidže Muratova
Hatidže’s life changes when a nomadic family arrives in their village. The new neighbors with their seven children and a herd of cattle create a huge mess and a hectic atmosphere, which Hatidže was not used to. However, she maintains a good relationship with the family, especially with the children she enjoys spending time with. Hussein, the head of the family, is interested in wild beekeeping and to solve his financial problems, he decides to try it. Hatidže gives him a family of bees and gives him instructions on collecting honey. He is making good progress, but the man who redeems his honey asks for more honey than Hussein can offer him, referring to Hatidže’s advice to always take only half the honey and leave half to the bees. If he takes all the honey from his bees, they will be hungry and start attacking other bees for their food. Hussein decides to ignore his advice and sells the entire stock of honey, which leads to the collapse of the bee colony of Hatidže. She feels disappointed, angry and sad. After taking everything from the bees, Hussein and his family suffer a great loss. Hundreds of their cows die, nothing is going well and they decide to move elsewhere. Hatidže’s mother dies and leaves her alone in the village with a new colony of bees that she finds after the long winter and her dog.
If we all lived by the “take half, leave half” idea, we could all have had enough. There would be balance and harmony in this world. Taking everything from nature we think we have everything, but the sad reality is that we don’t share this with others and it makes a huge contrast between people. We have seen many natural disasters in recent years and we can explain this by this lesson “Honeyland” – nature takes what we have stolen from it.
Who is Hatidže Muratova?
Hatidže is a woman in her fifties who lives in the northern Macedonian village of Bekirlija. His ancestors were Turkish and hailed from Turkey’s central province of Konya. The most common language in the documentary is Turkish, although it takes place on Macedonian soil. The language barrier caused a bit of confusion between Hatidže and the directors. They didn’t understand a word while filming his life, but when they returned to the studio and found the translator, they were more than happy with the outcome.
I would describe Hatidže as a wise, strong and courageous woman but also very caring and warm. His love for animals and nature is astounding. She shows a deep connection and respect for everything and everyone.
After receiving a first prize for a film, the directors bought his new home in the village of Dorfullu, which has a more central location. She is leading a good life now, without constantly worrying about how to survive the next day.
The documentary was not planned at all. Directors Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov wanted to make a documentary on the impact of humans on nature and on the loss of biodiversity. When they heard about a woman dealing with wild bees the old-fashioned way, they wanted to meet her and tried to pursue her to let them film her life. Filming for “Honeyland” lasted three years. It has received numerous awards including three at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was also nominated for Best International Feature and Best Documentary Feature, making it the first documentary to be nominated in both categories of the l history of the Oscars.
Directors of “Honeyland”, Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov