Kosovo’s Best International Film Shortlister, “Hive”.

Hive

Quo vadis, Fahrije?

Following in the footsteps Bosnia’s Oscar nominee Quo Vadis, Aida? is “Hive”, Kosovo’s 2022 Best International Film shortlister. While “Aida” occurs in almost real time, the pace of “Hive” is more relaxed. Writer/director Blerta Basholli’s focuses on a group of Kosovar women whose husbands disappeared during the war. When we first see Fahrije (Yllka Gashi), she is getting on the back of a truck. There, she unzips one body bag after another.

Hive

A never-ending limbo.

Her husband’s remains are not there, and she is left, like those other women, in a perpetual limbo. She is both unable to grieve, and is stripped of the possibility of starting a new life. Her only thing of worth is the family apiary which provides the honey she sells at the local market. This provides for her two children and her disabled father-in-law.

Fahrije (Yllka Gashi), a Kosovar woman whose husband has gone missing in the war from the film "Hive".

Deeply embedded misogynistic traditions.

Every so often she gets together with the other women in the village. Then one day they get an idea. They will start a joint venture bottling and selling Fahrije’s honey and ajvar, a condiment she makes from bell peppers and eggplant, to a supermarket in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital city. This enterprising spirit however goes against the grain of the deeply embedded misogynistic traditions of Fahrjie’s Balkan patriarchal society.

Hive

Reprisals

The fact that she is able to drive is frowned upon. That she uses this ability to take the jars of honey and ajvar into the city, marks her as a loose woman, a woman who disrespects her husband’s memory. This leads to all kinds of reprisals including her produce being destroyed and an attempted rape. Even her own daughter and father-in-law object when she has the resourcefulness to sell her husband’s table (not the family’s table!) to raise money for the project.

"Hive". Fahrije (Yllka Gashi), a Kosovar woman whose husband has gone missing in the war from the film "Hive".

Brief glimpses of a happier Fahrjie.

We get brief glimpses of Fahrjie as she might be in a less cruel world: the Fahrjie who bathes her reluctant little boy and the smile (or at least I think it’s a smile!) that she wears when she is with the other women discussing their next course of action. However, she mostly wears a stoic expression. An expression that results from tackling one seemingly insurmountable day after another.

Time stood still.

“Hive” is a testament of how time has stood tragically still for some women. Women who, at least of the map, live just around the corner from Budapest, Vienna and Athens.

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