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Honeyland (2019)—MacedoniaHoneyland (2019)—Macedonia

This remarkable documentary film is what I would call an ethnographic delight. It follows the daily life of a woman named Hatidže Muratova (born 1964), who's a wild beekeeper in a remote village called Bekirlija. The movie premiered at the 2019 Sundance film festival, where it was the only film to win three awards. At the 2020 Oscars it was nominated for best documentary and best foreign film. Without any external narration or voice-over, there are really four stories here. The first is the scenery of the remote mountains of northern Macedonia, which alone would make the film worth watching. Then, we watch how Hatidže tends her bees, collects the honey, and takes the train to sell it in the markets in Skopje (four hours away). The third story shows how tenderly Hatidže cares for her partly blind, eighty-five-year-old mother, who has been bedridden for four years, and this in a setting that is unimaginably primitive (no running water or electricity). Finally, trouble brews when a bumbling nomad named Hussein, along with his family of seven kids and a hundred cattle, moves his trailer onto the adjacent property. Amidst all this squalor, hardship, and disruption, Hatidže radiates an authentic sense of human dignity that is beautiful to behold. In an interesting back story, the directors Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov collected over four hundred hours of footage across three years of filming, then edited it down to this ninety-minute gem. I watched this film on Amazon Streaming. 

Dan Clendenin:

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