An impressive directorial and acting debut made even more impressive by the situation in Ukraine.

Reviews by Joyce Glasser beehive (18 January 2022) Cert. 15, 84 minutes.

Kosovo-born writer-director Blerta Basholli’s gripping debut feature film is a war story with no weapons, bloody battlefields, uniforms, heroic soldiers or cemeteries. However, there is one brave heroine: Fahrije, played by the remarkable, charismatic actress Yllka Gashi, on whom the camera is glued until she reads her mind without a word of explanatory dialogue.

Like other widows and mothers of the village, Fahrije lives in limbo from month to month and year to year as the new piles of bodies trickle into the morgue for identification. As the film begins, Fahrije climbs onto a van and begins opening body bags until an officer in riot gear gently removes them.

The unknown fate of the men and boys missing after the Serbian massacre in the predominantly Albanian town of Krushe e Madhe in March 1999 leaves villagers frozen in the past. When Fahrije tries to sell a chainsaw that her husband Agim used to build beehives, her family accuses her of disrespecting his memory and abandoning him. Her love for her husband and even her fidelity are questioned. But Fahrije knows that she has to start building a future for her family.

In the region’s patriarchal society, insecurity and grief are not Fahrije’s biggest obstacles. The real Fahrije said in an interview, “A widow should only do housework, respect her in-laws and stay at home.” But after seven years of waiting, Fahrije finds herself supporting the two children and a wheelchair-bound father-in-law, Haxhiu (Çun Lajçi). made, a decision that changed the lives of her family and fifty unemployed women.

Fahrije defies convention, malicious gossip, and physical danger to use a grant to earn a driver’s license and the loan of a broken-down car to get her a job. At a meeting at the women’s center, we hear that the women’s reluctance to learn to drive is fear of their reputation, and the objection of Fahrije’s existing relatives is also met with resistance at home, including from their teenage daughter Zana (Kaona Sylejmani). is ostracized at school for her mother’s activities and embarrassed, taking it out on her mother and even calling her a “whore”.

Fahrije’s husband Agim earned his living as a beekeeper and she remembers that he was never stung. And the honey she produces after suffering multiple bee stings in the process is not of the same quantity or quality. Haxhiu struggles to bring home cash from her stall at an outdoor market.

When Fahrije is introduced to a friendly supermarket owner, she and an elderly, independent widow, Nazmije (Kumrije Hoxha), embark on a more profitable venture than beekeeping. The progressive and savvy supermarket manager, who half believes Nazmije’s lie that she started a business and is its director, realizes there is a market for great-tasting, homemade groceries. He agrees to stock the pepper-based condiment Ajvar on a consignment basis.

The path from agreement to fulfillment is not smooth. Fahrije fights off a supplier, Bahri (Astrit Kabashi), when he tries to rape her. Apparently he thinks it’s fair game that a woman drives around alone. When she comes back to pay for the peppers, she throws the money on the ground and returns to her car. On another occasion, when the car stops at a traffic light in front of a café, a male-only hangout, someone throws a rock through her window. In a wonderful scene later in the film, Fahrije gets her revenge. An attack on the storage room stocked with dozens of jars waiting to be transported to the supermarket leaves the women demoralized but not defeated.

One of the joys of the film is watching Fahrije and Nazmije start their business and gradually attract the clandestine collaboration of the women who were initially too afraid of public rebuke to associate with Fahrije. Fahrije’s confidence grows as she discovers that she not only has the courage, but also the sourcing and managerial skills to build a business.

But it’s Fahrije’s relationship with her family that is at the heart of the film. Her father-in-law’s reluctance to perform a DNA test to help identify a found body or clothing is not a matter of principle but a psychological issue, as Fahrije notes. “We’re not going to kill him just because we find out,” she points out the obvious, and little by little her bravery calms him down. Helping children move forward without forgetting is through example.

Basholli’s style isn’t flashy or rushed, it’s distinctive. Many scenes end with a close-up of Fahrije thinking, and in the following scene, or sometimes a few scenes later, we find ourselves in medias res and realize that we are observing what she was thinking about.

This is the opposite of expository filmmaking. Almost in passing, we learn from a broken frame in a photograph that the house they live in, with the plumbing falling apart, wasn’t their home before the war. Yours had been destroyed.

Often Basholli’s directing is like visual poetry. A nice close-up of Fahrije’s face as she sneaks a look at her young son Edoni (Mal Noah Safçiu) in the shower is the center of one scene. When he tells her not to look, she reminds him that she is his mother. Edoni protests, “But you’re a girl,” before grabbing the towel to hide.

During this tender scene, the camera stays firmly on Fahrije’s face as a smile changes her features, expressing an emotion somewhere between love and pride. And just as fleetingly, that smile is interspersed with sadness and pity as she realizes Agim won’t watch him grow up with her.

An impressive directorial and acting debut made even more impressive by the situation in Ukraine.

Source link An impressive directorial and acting debut made even more impressive by the situation in Ukraine.

Back to top button