HIVE – Review by Jennifer Merin
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.