Everyday Activist - Honeyland (CIFF 2019)

Posted on Friday, September 20, 2019 at 08:00 AM

Honeyland (CIFF 2019)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

The description of Honeyland as “Europe's last female bee-hunter,” was a bit misleading. I thought this would be more like the adrenaline rush of The Last Honey Hunter (2018), directed by Ben Knight. At the 2017 Banff Mountain Film Festival, he won the Best Film: Mountain Culture award for his story about Mauli Dhan Rai and Asdhan. On the Himalayan cliffs, they harvested six foot in diameter honeycombs filled with psychedelic honey made by the world’s largest bees, for the last time. Interestingly, the Banff Centre has a specific program designed for photographers working in “mountain or wilderness communities with deep ecological history, cultural history or spiritual significance” bringing Honeyland to mind as Hatidze Muratova preserves her cultural history by respecting an ecological balance that exists between her and her bees.

While the story takes place in a remote village in the Balkans, Hatidze touches on issues that affect honey cultivation, halfway around the world. Going to the market to sell her honey, she tells the shopkeeper that her honey is pure and contains healing properties, whereas others who sell honey may have cut theirs with syrup, a persistent problem in Canada. Living with your ailing mother in a place without water and electricity, vandalism may not be the first concern, especially when people are filming! Unfortunately, she’s not alone. In May 2019, in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan, beehives were stolen from a beekeeper. Credit to the filmmakers whose discipline to remain as observers deserves a prize. The activist in me would have gladly wrecked the film to address the injustice Hatidze and her bees suffered.

Throughout the film, I reminded myself that this was a documentary. Relying on the characters to tell a compelling story through their pedestrian actions without interviews or narration worked for the filmmakers — audience and festival juries supported its World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. The remarkable film editing of footage taken over a three year period, gave Honeyland the polish of a docudrama. A few scenes may have been scripted for added effect, but overall the conflicts unfolded naturally with cameras ready to capture the moment. I loved the crisp images with the contrasts of the lighting inside Hatidze house and bright, sunny outdoor shots. The Sundance jury recognized this as well, with Honeyland also winning the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography. Further at Sundance, the film additionally won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact for Change.

Honeyland will screen at the 20th Calgary International Film Festival 2019 on September 20th, 26th and 28th at either the Globe Cinema or Cineplex Eau Claire. Tickets for the September 20th screening are already sold out, so make sure to buy tickets in advance for the other screenings. To support the protagonists, the Honeyland website accepts donations, for a minimum donation of $40 CAD, you can own 30g of Hatidze’s honey.

Calgary Showtimes: Honeyland >


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.