2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: HONEYLAND

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Samir Ljuma

Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska enter the world of a traditional beekeeper in Macedonia.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition


Sundance Program Description:

In a deserted Macedonian village, Hatidze, a fiftysomething woman in a bright yellow blouse and green headscarf, trudges up a hillside to check her bee colonies nestled in the rocks. Serenading them with a secret chant, she gently maneuvers the honeycomb without netting or gloves. Back at her homestead, Hatidze tends to her handmade hives and her bedridden mother, occasionally heading to the capital to market her wares. One day, an itinerant family installs itself next door, and Hatidze’s peaceful kingdom gives way to roaring engines, seven shrieking children, and 150 cows. Yet Hatidze welcomes the camaraderie, and she holds nothing back – not her tried-and-true beekeeping advice, not her affection, not her special brandy. But soon Hussein, the itinerant family’s patriarch, makes a series of decisions that could destroy Hatidze’s way of life forever.

Every frame of HONEYLAND pulses with the cycles of life and glows with Hatidze’s magical vitality and optimism. This visually sumptuous, vérité glimpse into a forgotten world is an ode to two endangered and priceless treasures: human decency and the delicate balance of nature.

Some Background:

  • Ljubomir Stefanov

    Stefanov has made several short docs related to environmental issues, including LAKE OF APPLES in collaboration with Tamara Kotevska. His feature debut is his first at Sundance.

  • Tamara Kotevska

    Kotevska also makes her Sundance debut. Her first documentary feature, STUDANTS, a midlength graduation film on environmental themes, was awarded at the Tirana International Documentary Film Festival. Kotevska’s doc short follow-up with Stefanov, LAKE OF APPLES, picked up several awards on the international fest circuit.


  • Atanas Georgiev

    Trice Films’ Georgiev has an extensive background as an editor. This too marks his first Sundance project.

Why You Should Watch:
Stefanov and Kotevska appealingly take a strictly observational approach, inviting the viewer to inhabit Hatidze’s idyllic setting and thereby experience its disruption alongside her. Beautifully shot and perfectly paced, the film takes on an almost fable-like quality as it tells its cautionary tale about the need to live in harmony with nature.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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