To say Kosovo has had a long and complex history is putting things mildly. It took a long time for them to obtain their independence from Serbia and be declared an independent nation. And before they could many fought and died for their beliefs. The film Hive, by writer/director Blerta Basholli, takes place a few years after the Kosovo War of 1999 where Serbian soldiers forcefully took hundreds of Kosovar men from their homes and killed them.
Fahrije’s (Yllka Gashi) husband is missing, as are the husbands of many of the townswomen. His absence forces her to run the household. That’s also because her father in law is a wheelchair using person and unable to help. For money she runs a bee farm and sells honey, but the income isn’t enough to keep them from living in poverty. Fahrije supplements her income and tries to find other ways to earn money. She eventually stumbles on manufacturing ajvar, a tasty spread made from red peppers.
Fahrije learns how to drive and starts her business, but quickly discovers that some of the other residents in town don’t approve of her actions and condemn her for them. She’s not alone however. Several of the other widows are willing to help, but even their hive may not be able to face off against the old prejudices that run the town.
Movies based on true stories can be difficult to make at times, especially if it mixes a lot of fiction to help the story flow better. A text card that appears after the movie ended. The card explained that not everything in the film happened, but that doesn’t detract from it at all. After all, Hive is one of those films where the individual pieces aren’t as important as the facts. For instance, the plight of the widows in the town was real. Their husbands had been taken away from them and that people looked down on them if they tried to make something of themselves. The community held these women down. They shamed these women for trying to survive on their own, which really is what this movie is all about.
Hive is Fahrije’s story, and without a strong performance from Yllka Gashi it might not have worked. Gashi’s solid performance however does the story justice. She makes you wonder how long it will be before she starts showing up in larger budget films. She plays Fahrije as a woman who has to keep a rock-faced visage so she can get through her daily trials. And when she finally cracks it’s heart breaking. Gashi’s future is indeed a bright one.
People think they’ve had it tough because they perceive their hands to be tied because of current events. But they need to watch this film to see how hard things really can be. It’s inspirational watching someone break free of restrictive gender roles to fight for their right to survive.