Review: Honeyland (2019)

Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska
Genres: Foreign/International Film, Documentary
MPAA Rating: NR
Theatrical Release Date: 7/26/19 (Limited)
Where to Watch: Hulu
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

I was reluctant to watch this documentary about a beekeeper in Macedonia, as I am vegan and I am unable to watch movies (fiction or documentary) that portray individuals using animals in any way. Yet, the woman featured in this movie — an indigenous woman who lives alone in the country with her ailing mother — treats the bees well; in fact, she calls them “my bees” because that’s how much she cares about them.

But, her beekeeping business is only part of this story, which shows how her world is upended when nomadic beekeepers move in next to her and threaten her livelihood. It is very enlightening and, at times, sad to see this woman try to maintain this business on her own while coming to terms with her mother’s impending death.

I will be honest: when I paused the film halfway through, I thought about not finishing it. I didn’t feel all that invested in the story, and it was getting difficult to read the subtitles that were sometimes hidden. Plus, I was a little bored. But, I’m glad I stuck with it.

By the end, I felt empathy towards this woman who is clearly a very kind person but whose life hasn’t been particularly easy. I almost wish there had been some narration, as when I couldn’t read the subtitles (sometimes the background was the same color) and was confused as to what was going on. Honeyland is, overall, an immersive, interesting look in the life of someone who lives very differently than most.


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