- Colin Fraser
FOUR STARS In post-war Kosovo, Fahrije upsets tradition by making a life for herself in what was once a man's world. It's that, or starve. DRAMA KOSOVO Albanian Language #HIVE
Starring Yilka Gashi, Çun Lajçi
Some years after the war in Kosovo, most women still don’t know what happened to the men in their lives. Sons, fathers, husbands all left never to return. Fahrije is one. She cares for her children, looks after her disabled father-in-law and makes small money selling honey at the village market. She is still looking for her husband.
With the likelihood that he’ll never return she decides to improve her lot, and that of other single woman in the village, by making a popular sweet-pepper sauce and selling it through the local supermarket. The manager is on board but what Fahrije and the other women don’t account for is the hostility they’ll face. Taking jobs from men (even though only a pitiful few are left who can actually do any work) muchless setting up a business is completely at odds with their conservative values. Furthering outrage, she also learns to drive a car and deal directly with outlets who’ll sell their produce in the nearby city. Her father-in-law doesn’t welcome the trouble, but Fahrije is made of sterner stuff. Besides, it’s that or starve.
This first feature from writer/director Blerta Basholli is an absolute standout, anchored by the steely performance of a commanding Yilka Gashi. She’s utterly convincing as Fahrije, a woman not only determined to improve the lot of her family, but who won’t be told how she should behave by a bunch of belligerent, sexist old men. Basholi’s gift is creating a world of guarded restraint yet not throttling emotion in the process. The result is highly charged story-telling that shoots from the heart.
HIVE is also a poignant character study of a woman who understands that times have changed, old values no longer apply and it is she who is now charged with providing for the family. The woman in her village are also realising the power and importance they wield, even if the remaining men who cling to old, outdated values, do not. This clash of gender, of culture and of age is the crux of Basholi’s riveting film, one that tells the story of Kosovo, of Bosnia and what will inevitably be Ukraine in ten years time. Its story couldn’t be more timely.