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* Honeyland *
The documentary Honeyland takes us to the Balkans, where two ageing women live in a slate hut with a dog and three cats amid an arid mountain landscape. It's primitive, beautiful, elemental - just the sort of place to produce a great documentary story. And it does. The last female bee-hunter in Europe must save the bees and return the natural balance in Honeyland, when a family of nomadic beekeepers invade her land and threaten her livelihood. Nestled in an isolated mountain region deep within the Balkans, Hatidze Muratova lives with her ailing mother in a village without roads, electricity or running water. She's the last in a long line of Macedonian wild beekeepers, eking out a living farming honey in small batches to be sold in the closest city -- a mere four hours' walk away. Hatidze's peaceful existence is thrown into upheaval by the arrival of an itinerant family, with their roaring engines, seven rambunctious children and herd of cattle. Hatidze optimistically meets the promise of change with an open heart, offering up her affections, her brandy and her tried-and-true beekeeping advice. It doesn't take long however, before Hussein, the itinerant family's patriarch, senses opportunity and develops an interest in selling his own honey. Hussein has seven young mouths to feed and nowhere to graze his cattle, and he soon casts Hatidze's advice aside in his hunt for profit. This causes a breach in the natural order that provokes a conflict with Hatidze that exposes the fundamental tension between nature and humanity, harmony and discord, exploitation and sustainability. Even as the family provides a much-needed respite from Hatidze's isolation and loneliness, her very means of survival are threatened.
REVIEW: HONEYLANDTrue lovers of the documentary form must track down Honeyland as soon as possible, as this incredible cinematic experience will not be hanging around for long in local cinemas. This is the story of Hatidze Muratova, a beekeeper whose mystical command of the hives makes her one of the last practitioners of a vanishing art of honey extraction. The key to Hatidze's extraordinary gift is her ability to track, hunt, placate, move and replace wild bees of all species, sizes and temperaments. In Honeyland's genuinely unforgettable opening minutes, Hatidze is seen ascending a mountain and prising open a busy hive located on a steep and craggy cliff face. It would be dangerous enough for a trained and fit climber to be trying this. Miss Muratova is a small peasant woman aged well into her fifties, and armed with no technical assistance except a bottle of smoke (in case a savage stinger comes at her). As the film assumes its proper shape, we discover that Hatidze and her elderly mother are the sole residents of an otherwise abandoned village in a hilly corner of rural Macedonia. Then they acquire some neighbours: a rough-andtumble family of itinerant cattle farmers who think it might be a good idea to hustle some honey money on the side. Hatidze tries to share her secrets with these newcomers to the game, but her valuable counsel goes ignored, triggering a series of telling and lasting consequences for all. Anyone with a fascination for how people should be living alongside nature - particularly those people also making a living off nature - will be totally spellbound by what they encounter here. Honeyland's filmmakers found Hatidze and her astonishing story by accident, and subsequently spent three years gathering the extraordinary footage shown here. The end result (which earned two nominations at the recent Academy Awards) is a miracle in so many ways. Leigh Paatsh review from the March 5 2020 issue of The Herald Sun Digital Edition. heraldsun.com.au Directors: Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov Writers: Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov Stars: Hatidze Muratova, Nazife Muratova, Hussein Sam
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