HONEY (Zgjoi)
Contemporary films
Reviewed for and linked to Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Blerta Bacholli
Writer: Blerta Basholli
Actors: Yllka Gashi, Cun Lajci, Kumrije Hoxha, Kaona Sylejmani, Mal Noah Safciu, Aurita Agushi, Adriana Matoshi
Screened at: Critics Link, NYC, 10/26/21
Opening: November 5 at the Film Forum in New York

When a movie doesn’t have music in the soundtrack, it means the director, crew, and performers realize that the material is so strong that it doesn’t require any artificial amplification. You have to love it, just like the folks at Sundance who awarded “Hive” (Zgjoi in Albanian) all the major awards: grand jury, audience and staging. It’s a record: it’s the first time that a Sundance feature has captured all three.

Based on a true story of women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, the action takes place in the socially conservative small town of Krushë e Madhe in western Kosovo, focusing on the raw drive of Fahrije (Yllka Gashi) , whose life was turned upside down by ignorance of the fate of her missing husband who was lost in a war. The action takes place years after the end of the Kosovo War, an armed conflict that began on February 28, 1998 and lasted until June 11, 1999, between Serbia and Montenegro, which controlled Kosovo before the war, to the Kosovo Liberation Army who struggled to break one way. It became one of the few wars that saw NATO intervene with air strikes, which succeeded in forcing the withdrawal from Kosovo of its occupants until then.

The conflict in miniature is taking place within Fahrije’s house and among the inhabitants of the small town, people unaccustomed to women who take their rightful place in the house, start a new business and grow by selling their product. in a supermarket in the big city. After working as a beekeeper, Fahrije finds that honey is not enough to support her family, which includes her stepfather (Cun Lajci), a teenage girl on the verge of becoming “a wife” and a younger son. She gets together with other women to form a mini-kibbutz, if you will, using simple tools to create a hot pepper stew by taking the raw product, chopping it and bottling it for the purpose of sell the processed peppers en masse to a supermarket. . She is called a whore by a few people in town who think a war widow shouldn’t try to get out of this on her own. But she is determined enough to put the inertia of widowhood behind her. She learns to drive, copes with her car window being smashed by men, even repels attempted rape by the guy she buys the peppers from, who may be willing to write off her monetary debt by taking it off the market. .

With the camaraderie of a group of women motivated more by the older Naza (Kumrije Hoxha), the group takes time to dance and move beyond the sadness of identifying men and women in body bags. and later called upon to examine the clothes and watches of people who are now considered dead.

Blerta Baholli directed in 2011 “Lena dhe Unë” of fifteen minutes, about two immigrants in America who agree to comply with their parents’ demands to stick to old traditions but, like Fahrije, decide to do things their own. manner. “Hive” is his first feature film. Suddenly, the world of serious moviegoers who have not yet achieved an A grade in geography in high school, will add Kosovo to their vocabulary, a place which almost surprisingly due to opposition from Russia and Serbia , led the United States under President George Bush to recognize their independence because this would help “bring peace to the Balkans”. Good luck to the region that started WWI.

84 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, member, New York Film Critics Online

History – B +
Acting – A-
Technical – A-
Overall – B +


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