Fahrije’s husband has been missing since the war in Kosovo. She sets up her own small business to provide for her kids, but as she fights against a patriarchal society that does not support her, she faces a crucial decision.

This year’s entrant from Kosovo for the ‘Best International Feature Film’ award at the Oscar’s is a film called ‘Hive’, about a group of women who defy societal expectations and start a business after their husbands have gone missing during the Kosovan War. It follows one of these women, Fahrije (Yllka Gashi), a determined individual who identifies a market to sell homemade honey and ajvar (a dip made from sweet peppers and aubergine) to local supermarkets and beyond. It is based on a true story and much of the films focus is on the difficulty Fahrije and her fellow woman have in coming to terms with the likely loss of their husbands whilst fighting to make a living in an environment where woman are not expected to be entrepreneurs.

The title has a double meaning, referring both to the hives of bees that create the honey that is sold, as well as relating to the community formed by these (likely) widows who find a strength and resolve in working together. I was particularly impressed by the performance of Yllka Gashi as Fahrije, who carries the picture and plays a character who outwardly portrays strength almost as a shield to cover her internal grief at not having any finality with regards to the fate of her husband. This is a very worthwhile story to tell and having recently visited Kosovo, the legacy of this recent war (it was late 1990s) looms large over this fledgling nation, but I did think that ‘Hive’ may have worked better as a documentary than a feature film. I was interested in the story, but I thought as a film it didn’t grab me as much as I had hoped it would.

Hive’ is a solid movie from Blerta Basholli that shines a light on a tragic sequence of events where the pain has lingered on, impacting every aspect of Kosovan life. At the same time it shows that even in the toughest of circumstances, human beings find ways to survive and attempt to thrive, and that is never more apparent in Fahrije who shows tremendous resolve to overcome not only the past, but the misogyny and backwards attitudes of some of the male residents of her community.

For another recent film that covers the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, I highly recommend ‘Quo Vadis, Aida?‘, a Bosnian film from last year, which was my top film of 2021.

Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Blerta Basholli

Starring: Yllka Gashi, Çun Lajçi, Aurita Agushi, Kumrije Hoxha, Adriana Matoshi, Molikë Maxhuni and Blerta Ismaili

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