The astonishingly gorgeous documentary film, Honeyland, explores the life of Europe’s last beekeeper, and her struggle to face mankind’s flawed condition against nature.
Shot over three years, Honeyland is very much like a film, with no scenes of any character acknowledging the filmmakers, which almost feels like they were filmed in secret. The plot follows Hatidze, a beekeeper living in the middle of nowhere in Macedonia, as she takes care of the two most precious things in her life – her old disabled mother, and her bees.
“Half for me, and half for the bees” – that is Hatidze’s simple philosophy to keep the natural order between her bees and her honey business. The story quickly introduces a family-from-hell that moves into the same abandoned village with their cattle. Hussein and his wife have 7 kids to raise and slowly take onto honey production, parallel to Hatidze. When the demand for more honey rolls in, it disrupts the natural order of the land between the bees, the cattle, and the two households.
Beautifully shot, Honeyland moves a lot in silence. At times it almost feels like every conflict is hopeless to fight against, as the family represents a sample of human behavior towards natural resources when capitalism is required to be accommodated. While this was the clearest main theme of the documentary, the film sheds light on humans’ longing for connection when faced with isolation in nature. It asks us, what kind of neighbor would you embrace in your life when you’re feeling isolated and lonely? This is apparent as Hatidze gives up fixing her radio after losing everything, and goes into nature to do the one thing she’s best at – save the bees!
A mesmerizing take on a character full of love and connection to nature, faced with the world’s many flaws, looking to take everything she has. This documentary film is a beautiful reminder of what’s important in life, and a must-watch for anyone with deep concerns about the environment.
First film to be nominated at the Academy Awards for both Best Documentary Feature and Best Foreign Film.