Blerta Basholli Celebrates HIVE in DC – Leslie Combemale reports

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There’s a dream every female filmmaker must have of their projects getting support on a grand scale, as amplification from studios and outside sources with influence can make all the difference to a film’s success. That being true, writer/director Blerta Basholli must be over the moon after November 9th’s screening of her award-winning film Hive in Washington, DC. Not only were Basholli and Hive’s star, Yllka Gashi in attendance, but so were the president of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani, who is only the second female president in Kosovo’s history, and AMA, MTV, and Grammy-winning musician, supermodel, and activist Dua Lipa. The woman on whom the story of Hive is based, Fahrije Hoti, was also present for the event, which took place at the Ritz Carlton in Georgetown.

The film, which was featured as AWFJ.org’s Movie of the Week for November 5 2021, tells the story of entrepreneur Fahrije Hoti (played by Yllka Gashi), who struggled with the lasting effects of the disappearance of her husband during the war in Kosovo, launching a business selling ajvar, a regional roasted red pepper sauce, to support herself and the other women of her village. She combats both grief and the suffocating patriarchy controlling her village in trying to find not just a way to survive, but a way to move forward. It is a gorgeous celebration of sisterhood and community that goes beyond just story to speak to the power of womanhood and the possibility of healing after trauma.

Invited as a representative of AWFJ, I was there to watch the screening, and was able to speak to Basholli, Hoti, and President Osmani about the importance of the film. Basholli and Osmani expressed how important it is for advocates of parity and inclusion for women in film to bring attention to Hive, a film that has been uniformly celebrated and even has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

In their opening remarks before the screening, writer/director Blerta Basholli and Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani spoke about why they hope Hive will be seen as having cultural significance and how it celebrates the strength of the women of Kosovo:

Hive has had a really long journey. From the moment I met Fahrije, my life changed, and making her story, I grew up as a person, I grew up as a filmmaker, and I grew up as a woman and as a mother. We had great support ever since Sundance, but we’ve had a great person and a great woman, our president, Vjosa Osmani, supporting us from the very first moment. And, of course, we’re really honored tonight to have support by our amazing Dua Lipa and her family. Having the support and having all these great women join us means more than just supporting us, because of the need for discussion regarding women rights. I hope this film will encourage discussion and give hope not only to women and girls, but hopefully to men and boys as well.” Blerta Basholli commented.

“Hive is about Kosovo, it’s about its people. And it’s especially about the women of Kosovo who, if I’m asked, are the strongest human beings on earth. The story of Fahrije is a story of turning pain into strength and turning loss into hope. It’s a story of a mother who does everything for her children. It is the story of the strength of the women who survived the Kosovo War that are now heading some of the brightest and the most successful companies, including Fahrije’s company. I think it really deserves the support of each and every one of us not just part of institutions, but as human beings. It is the story that will serve as a lesson for so many others around the world. I do want to invite each and every one of you to tweet about it, write about it, and post about it, because Kosovo needs it, the women of Krusha need it, and because we need to send a powerful message not just to the region, but to the rest of the world, about the strength and power of the women of Kosovo to turn their loss and pain into something amazing,” said Vjosa Osmani

We at AWFJ are grateful to be included in events like this and understand the importance of them. We exist to amplify great films by female filmmakers whenever possible. Here’s hoping Hive and all the great films by female filmmakers released in 2021 will rise to the top of the FYC lists during awards season.

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Leslie Combemale

Leslie Combemale writes as Cinema Siren for websites including LikeABossGirls.com, where she promotes women in film with her own column. She is in her third year as producer and moderator of the "Women Rocking Hollywood" panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Find all her interviews and reviews at cinemasiren.com.