Whether it’s under the regime of totalitarian dictatorships seen in Chile or the atrocities of civil war seen in the former Yugoslavia the knowledge of men disappearing into the night never to be seen again leaving in its wake a trail of mothers and wives never knowing the fate of their children or husbands yet stubbornly holding onto the belief that one day they will come home now, with the war in Ukraine, seems to be a case of history repeating and humanity never learning.  In the case of Hive it is Fahrije Hoti (Yllka Gashi) a real, life Kosovan woman coping with the disappearance of her husband and now struggling to bring up her two children and look after her wheelchair bound father in law. The Hive of the title is that built by her missing husband from which she sells honey in an effort to make ends meet but it’s not enough and she’s not the only woman in her village that struggles to her financial head above water.  But Fahrje, keenly aware that it’s sink or swim, with a family to support on her own knows she has no choice and starts a business producing homemade red pepper preserve, Aljar.

Hive - the true life story of a Kosovan mother trying to survive

Yet her struggle is not only to make a fledgling business succeed it’s also against a deeply misogynistic and patriarchal village who, rather than try and assist her, instead are belligerently hostile towards her and Fahrje suffers a tirade of abuse and physical attacks that includes being called a whore simply because she learns to drive to finding that days upon days of work to make shelf upon shelf  of preserve are all smashed  after her store is broken into. There’s a steely resolve about Gashi’s performance as the real life Fahrije determined to make it work and inspiring the other single mothers to form a collective in order to help make ends meet. Set against this is her efforts to find what has happened to her husband in grim circumstances with the film opening scenes of exhumation of a mass grave opening body bags like the grimmest Halloween version of Deal or No Deal. It bookends the film in an especially heart wrenching scene as she attends a centre to identify what might be her missing husband and finally gives release to her previously stoic self remaining strong for her children pining for their missing father.

In an era of #TimesUp Hive is an especially relevant film that celebrates the strength, camaraderie and ultimately the fighting spirit of women in upsetting circumstances. That this is a true story is significant in a time when the fate of Ukraine women who will also relive the unknown fate of their husbands over the coming weeks, months and probably years. In that respect Hive is essential viewing

Here’s the Hive trailer…….


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