HIVE – Review by Jennifer Merin

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Hive, the first feature from writer/director Blerta Bashollo and Kosovo’s official Oscars foreign language nominee, shows the day to day life of one women, Fahrije (Yllka Gashi), in a totally galvanizing truth-based narratve that relates the real conditions faced by women in the village of Krusha after the disappearance of their husbands during genocidal attacks on their town during the Kosovo War in 1999. As teams of workers find bodily remains and buried personal belongings daily, and the town’s anguished women await definitive information about their missing loved ones.

Living conditions are dire. With their husbands missing, Krusha’s women are left in financial straits. Fahrije is trying to support her two children and aging father-in-law with income from her husband’s bee hives, but the hives are stressed and the meager honey they produce cannot sustain the family. Resourceful Fahrije learns to drive so she can seek employment in the nearby city of Pristina. But in Krusha’s repressive socio-cultural traditions, women are not allowed to drive, so Fahrije is verbally abused and physically assaulted by the town’s remaining men — for not knowing her place. Nor are women allowed to conduct business. Rising above the repression, Fahrije convinces the women of Krusha to work collectively and she organizes them to produce ajvar (a condiment made from red peppers), which they are able to sell in a market in Pristina, and eventually to the rest of the world.

Be prepared to care. Blerta Bashollo’s script and direction convey the heart of the harrowing story, while Yllka Gashi’s nuanced performance as Fahrije captures the quiet but warrior-like determination of a woman who will not give in and will not give up. In Hive, women push through heartache to hope.

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).