Hive “Zgjoi” (2021) : Sundance Review (A True Story of Post-War Kosovan Feminists) (Written by Anna Miller)
Hive is Blerta Basholli’s self-written feature and Sundance directorial debut which is playing in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the fest this year, and it is worth the ticket.
Yllka Gashi gives a subtly vehement performance as real-life Fahrije, a woman grieving the disappearance of her husband during post-war Kosovo, who finds herself facing a patriarchal community as she tries to provide for her own family by starting her own business. Engulfed by her small village with its parochial mentality, merely obtaining her driver’s license results in stones being thrown at her windows, and she finds she is unable to simply sell a table saw without the permission of her father in-law.
Fahrije stoically presses on amid glares and gossip, taking over her husband’s honeybee business and starts her own, making ajvar with her friend-turned-manager, Nazë. The two gain the support of other widowed women in Krusha, and soon they have a bustling ajvar-making trade, selling to a local marketplace.
The women face an abundance of hurdles and hindrances as they defy odds and grow their business, despite the vandalization of their hard labor, experiencing assault and threats as well as the potential of jeopardizing relationships with their families. In the midst of all this, Fahrije, refusing to believe he is dead, continues to the best of her ability to locate her missing husband— searching mass graves herself and challenging authority to find truth.
The film is a triumphant and empowering true story of a village victimized by war, and a woman who emerged from the rubble with defiance and a will to take her oppression-fueled turmoil and forge it into change. The film’s directing is laser-sharp which only amplifies the performances of the actors involved. It falters in pacing at times, but makes up for in captivating camera work and a compelling, raw narrative touching on family, the long term effects of war and the importance of equality in any society.
Hive gets a 4/5!
-Today, 20 years after the village of Krusha e Madhe experienced one of the biggest massacres during the war in Kosovo, 1600 people are still missing.
If you would like to support Fahrije and the women of Krusha, you can find their business at the following link: