T. Kotevska & Ljubomir Stefanov: Honeyland

… T for Tamara, L for Ljubomir, producer and editor Atanas Georgiev, camerapersons Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma.

Composition of the image. Finding the rythm of the film. The tone. It’s all about form that you have to think about before you start filming. Does form come before content. Or said in modern documentary language, does form come before story. But what is story? Is it two bees crawling on a leaf? Or two bees fighting outside the beehive?

It’s all there in this beautiful documentary. Composition knowledge. Superb editing. Excellent camerawork. When you are outside in the vast rocky valley, where Atidze grow bees, and inside when she – born in 1964 – is in the hut with her 85 year old mother, who is lying in her bed and has been doing so for four years. There is no electricity which has given the camerapersons the opportunity to create the most amazing images with light from candles. The faces of daugther and mother, like paintings from Dutch masters.

Atidze knows the presence of the camera. Sometimes a little smile comes to her face as if she is proud to be the protagonist in a film. She is present, when she is caring about her mother and when she is with the neighbours, who come with all their cows – and noise – and children, with whom, at least with one of them, Atidze gets along, when he, the boy, runs away from mum and dad and the other children. He does not run a lot, they are just next door in their camper, trying to survive by growing bees as well. The family does not have the knowledge and understanding as has Atidze, and at the end of the day they are about to destroy her way of surviving. However Atidze cares about the neighbours, especially the kids, there are many magic moments in this film, like when the little girl stands on the doorsteps to the hut with a kitten in her arms. Do you want one, Atidze asks, what colour…

She walks up the mountain, she takes away a piece of stone to see how the bees are, she sings for them, removes the honey to take down and to go to sell in Skopje – far away – or at the marketplace. It’s a unique film!

Macedonia, 2019, 85 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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