HONEYLAND: An exploration of ethically sustainable beekeeping
Directed by Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov
[Universal, 2019, 1 hr 30 min]
After months of binge-watching mini-series and reality television seasons, my brain ached to view something a little more unpredictable.
In my search for genuine engagement, I came across the film Honeyland: a documentary that follows a middle-aged Macedonian woman whose practice of ancient beekeeping suffers at the hands of her disruptive neighbours.
Apart from the film’s breathtaking footage of the untouched landscapes of North Macedonia, this documentary offers viewers a stunning tale of tension between the greedy and the grateful.
Despite Honeyland having very little dialogue, the film is a huge eye-opener to those of us who need to be reminded that joy and success are best highlighted through simplicity.
In today’s consumerist society, we’re conditioned to believe that joy will come from monetary gain and that we’re entitled to receive it, even by unethical means. Honeyland’s portrayal of the last traditional beekeeper in Europe (Hatidze) teaches us that it’s not financial earnings but dignity, optimism and the ability to treat all living beings with love and care that will provide a person with a happy life.
“Half for them, half for me”
Hatidze, the traditional beekeeper in the film, repeatedly emphasizes the importance of “half for them, half for me,” implying her ethical belief of leaving the bees the same amount of honey that she retrieves from them.
Throughout the film, it’s obvious that Hatidze benefits from this practice, as she has a harmonious relationship with nature, one that contributes to the good of all.
In contrast, Hatidze’s ungrateful beekeeping neighbours fail to obey the traditional methods that she suggests. The remaining footage of Honeyland clearly portrays the financial, mental, physical and environmental suffering that occurs as a result.
Hatidze’s ability to remain faithful to the sustainable practices of traditional beekeeping, along with her patience—even with those who refuse to accept her wisdom—is powerful and admirable, especially in this conflict-heavy world.
Honeyland is a stunning, frustrating and moving documentary that will leave viewers yearning to treat all members of Mother Earth with love and appreciation.
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