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Review: Sweet as Honeyland

Missed the recent local, sold-out screening of this award-winning documentary? Here's why it's still worth seeking out.

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Equal part environmental rally cry and slice-of-life story, Honeyland shares the story of Europe's last female wild bee keeper. - VIA HONEYLANDFILM.COM
  • via honeylandfilm.com
  • Equal part environmental rally cry and slice-of-life story, Honeyland shares the story of Europe's last female wild bee keeper.
The documentary Honeyland tells a relatively minor story concerning a small group of individuals. Yet, the Oscar-nominated film manages to communicate so much about how human nature values the environment against its own interests.

The movie is that special kind of documentary that is able to present a narrative in a similar manner to any scripted film. The film covers Hatidže, a beekeeper who lives alone with her elderly mother in the mountains of North Macedonia. The last female wild bee keeper in Europe, Hatidže's quiet life is disturbed by the arrival of neighbours: A family of cattle ranchers.

Over three years, tensions between the two families begin to grow over their differing relationship with the natural environment.


The ideological battle over the importance of nature is the main heart of the film. Hatidže constantly states her belief that people should take no more than half of what nature provides, in comparison to the cattle ranchers using as much natural resources as possible for business. While one side is portrayed more positively, neither are truly demonized as both parties' viewpoints are shown in a sympathetic light.

In addition, Honeyland manages to simultaneously be a small slice-of-life story and have gorgeous visuals. Showcasing breathtaking sights of the mountains and the smaller beauty found within beehive ecosystems, the film's visuals reinforce the importance and need to protect nature. There are minor nitpicks, such as sometimes the editing feels too deliberate as though points are being skimmed over for time. Though, that ignores 90 minutes of tight narrative cohesion made from four hundred hours of footage.

Honeyland is an incredible documentary which makes the niche subject matter relatable to the world stage.


Honeyland is available for digital rent or purchase on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.

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