A painstakingly unobtrusive camera records one Macedonian woman's simple life: gathering wild honey, selling it in Skopje, caring for her bedridden mother, and eventually clashing with an interloping farm family who threaten her ecologically precarious occupation.
"Part Balkan 'Grey Gardens,' part bittersweet meditation"—The Hollywood Reporter
The plight of declining honeybee populations has worried scientists for years about the possible collapse of the world food supply, so intertwined are these hard-working pollinators with our agricultural system. Honeyland is not about colony collapse disorder, but it is an elegiac homage to a dying way of life. This documentary centers on Hatidze Muratova, one of the last so-called "bee hunters" left on the Balkan peninsula, who raises bees in a minimally invasive manner, based on the sustainability principle of "take half, leave half." Shot over three years by filmmakers Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska, Honeyland contains achingly gorgeous sequences of Muratova tending to her colonies and selling what honey she can in Skopje to care for her elderly mother in a rural Macedonian village without electricity. These rhythms are later thrown into stark relief when a family of itinerant Turkish farmers sets up shop in the village and begins to compete with Muratova's honey operation, with more emphasis on short-term profit than on the well-being of the bees. Stefanov and Kotevska don't treat the interlopers as villains, necessarily, but as just another conflicting group struggling to escape poverty. Ultimately, however, Honeyland can be seen as a cautionary tale about how the intrusion of capitalism on a carefully balanced system can have dire consequences.
Macedonian filmmakers Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska spent three years working on Honeyland, their debut documentary.
Sponsored by Comcast
- Director: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska
- Country: Macedonia
- Year: 2019
- Running Time: 85 minutes
- Producer: Atanas Georgiev
- Cinematographers: Fejmi Daut, Samir Ljuma
- Editors: Atanas Georgiev
- Music: Foltin
- Website: Official Film Website
- Awards: Sundance 2019 (World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize, World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact for Change, Cinematography)
- Filmography: Debut Feature Film
- Language: Turkish
- Has Subtitles: Yes
- Format: DCP
- US Distributor: NEON
- International Sales: Submarine Entertainment