Still from Honeyland

OzAsia Festival Review: Honeyland

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A beautiful documentary about the last wild bee-hunter in the Balkan Mountains, Honeyland is a powerful cautionary tale.

Honeyland follows Hatidze Muratova, a woman in her mid-50s, who harvests the honey of wild bees in rural Macedonia. She only takes what she needs, never depleting the bees’ honey for her own needs. She sells the honey at the markets and lives with her sick and bedridden mother, Nazife, in a stone house with no electricity or running water. But Hatidze’s peaceful yet lonely life is thrown into chaos with the arrival of an itinerant family, who become her new neighbours. Whilst she warms to them at first, even bonding with one of their sons, the father’s refusal to heed her warnings and plundering of the mountain’s resources with no restraint, spells disaster for all.

This work is a harrowing reminder of the damage humanity’s creed can wreak on these fragile ecosystems.

The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking and the film is worth seeing in cinemas just for the gorgeous vistas alone. The intimate but never invasive camerawork helps engross the audience in the rich stories of the characters without the need for narration or interviews like a lesser documentary would. The audience feels like a fly on the wall for the entirety of the film, watching these captivating events play out and there are several “edge of the seat” moments, most notably the scenes involving the endangerment of children and animals.

A film about the consequences of greed, Honeyland is one of the best documentaries of the year with an engrossing subject and stunning visuals.

Reviewed by Jordan Ellis.

BEAUTIFUL YET BLEAK 4 Stars

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