Honeyland Movie Review and Video (9/10)

by Tony Medley Movie Reviews

Photo Credit  / Neon

Film Distribution / Neon

Runtime 90 minutes.

NR.

This is an amazing film. While it’s hard to believe that it’s really a documentary and that all that is happening is actually happening and not by actors, that’s exactly what it is.

Directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska, there is no script because the movie was shot in real time of the people involved, all of whom are illiterate. Hatidze lives in a wild region of Macedonia with her dying mother, Nazife, who is blind and paralyzed, and keeps bees the ancient way, taking only half of the production to sell and leaving the other half for the bees.

Stefanov and Kotevska started shooting and were well on their way when another family moved in and horned in on Hatidze’s bee-keeping business, upon which she relied to survive. She generously tried to help them. Her business was handed down from generation to generation and she is the last survivor. But she knew what she was doing and the new family clearly did not.

They shot over 400 hours of footage over a period of three years, including heart-touching intimate moments with her mother. With no narration, just what you see on the screen, the location is, according to the Production Notes, “an unearthly land, unattached to a specific time and geography, unreachable by regular roads, and yet only 20 km away from the nearest modern city.”

I saw the movie before I knew anything about it and finally came to the conclusion that it must be a brilliantly scripted and acted film. Then I came to know that it was true cinéma-vérité in the strict sense of the term, that there was no script and no direction and no actors; the extremely small crew was actually just shooting things as they happened, and I was overwhelmed and filled with empathy for Hatidze and the life she was leading.

This shows how some people actually live today, and it is astonishing. I don’t think you will ever see another movie like this that exhibits life as it really is. I had tears in my eyes when it ended. In Turkish, Bosnian and Macedonian.

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