Hive – Film Review
by Hugh Maguire
Director – Blerta Basholli
Writer – Blerta Basholli
Stars – Yllka Gashi, Çun Lajçi, Aurita Agushi
With Russian tanks rolling over Ukraine we are reminded daily of the horrors and impact of war. However, the legacies of wars are all too soon forgotten by outside observers and our attention spans seem short, as we move on to other fields and zones of conflict. Who now is paying attention to events in Haiti? Who now thinks of the Balkan conflicts? What has become of Afghanistan? This sensitive film, based on true events, shows in a non-hectoring way how war can have devastating consequences on families and individuals far beyond, and removed from any new political landscape that may emerge.
Set in Kosovo in the aftermath of its horrific wars (1998-9) we follow the steely resolve of the subject heroine Fahrije as she strives to keep food on the table and to survive. She seeks her husband’s remains in vain and there are all-too-believable scenes of her tearing through body bags in the forlorn hope of identifying his remains, to bring some sense of closure. This is no sentimental film suggesting that the cause of the struggle and grief is an outside enemy, there are as many villains on Fahrije’s village doorstep. The enemies within are as damaging in their way as the former geopolitical ones. Her attempts to improve her lot and assert her independence, to provide for her family meets with hostility from locals who believe women should not drive unaccompanied and certainly should not be taking themselves off to the big city selling wares.
The title is something of a misnomer as it implies a focus on honey! And while there are certainly beehives to be seen the emphasis is instead on Ajvar a popular regional condiment of roasted peppers. With little or no equipment, Fahrije sets about preparing jars of the luminously coloured delicacy. The store manager of the big town supermarket is on side and little by little the women of the village help almost secretly, providing cleaned jars, labelling, helping with preparing peppers, roasting contents and stirring sauces. It is all low key but it has all the force of more dramatic events, Fahrije (not always the most empathetic character in her stony-faced way) brings the village women around, ignoring the slings and arrows of the local male population, supporting her father in law, being firm with her daughter and eventually having a quiet triumph. In the real world, Fahrije’s business now employs many and exports internationally. The film, with an unprecedented array of awards and prizes, is a steady and insightful account of one woman’s struggle against greater forces and in this sense she encapsulates the struggles of all people, be it in Kosovo or Ukraine, to overcome what is wrong.