Believe the hype. For a while now I have been waiting for the perfect time to sit down, put my feet up, pour a glass of wine and watch the 2019 Macedonian documentary, Honeyland, directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov. I have heard many reports, and read numerous reviews, and so was dying to finally see what has been described as a masterpiece. Before watching Honeyland, I was expecting a heart-warming number; but, despite the brilliance of this piece of art and reality, this documentary brims with sadness, death and greed.
Honeyland portrays the life of Hatidže Muratova – a beekeeper of Turkish descent, who cares for and keeps wild bees and resides in the remote mountain village of Bekirlija. Hatidže’s village has no access to electricity and running water, and Hatidže lives with her 85-year old partially blind and bedridden mother. The film follows her humble beekeeping lifestyle, part of which involves her earning money by selling her honey in the Macedonian capital of Skopje, before and after her neighbour – the nomadic rancher Hussein Sam – moves in next door.
Now, I don’t want to spoil the storyline of this incredible and unique documentary, but I will say that Honeyland brings home a very important message: bees don’t respond to greed. In fact, nature as a whole doesn’t. Good people don’t either – greed is toxic, and before you know it you realise it’s something you need out of your life. Please, for all bee lovers, for anyone who cares deeply about the environment, for all the people who are being affected and questioning where humanity stands at this very hard and upsetting time, watch Honeyland. While this documentary won’t necessarily put a smile on your dial, it will teach you some incredible lessons. Bees, like human beings, can’t live when greed takes over. Bees need people with a genuine and humble approach to the world and living and the environment; bees need people who respect that environment in order to survive. The world feels fraught right now, and for good reason; although this documentary is centred on the story of beekeeping and not the general struggle of human beings, there are lessons embedded in this film that we can take into our daily living. Look to the wise and the humble for advice, and cherish that advise, because it we assume our new ideas, so fuelled by progress, are the solution, the lesson is a grave one. Stay true x Ben