Review: Hive (Sundance 2021)

Title: Hive
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Blerta Basholli
Starring: Yllka Gashi, Cun Lajci, Aurita Agushi
Runtime: 1 hr 24 mins

What It Is: Fahrije (Gashi) is a woman, like many, whose husband has gone missing. This is life during the war in Kosovo. One thing that hasn’t changed is the misogyny placed towards Kosovar women. Without their husbands, they’re expected to do nothing. Not work, not sell items belonging to their Fahrije’s. To counter this she and the woman of her village set up a business selling ajvar (a traditional Kosovar dish) in the supermarkets around the country. She’s trying this while dealing with backlash from everywhere.

What We Think: Yllka Gashi is astonishing here. Everything her Fahrije goes through is felt. It’s felt deeply and helps guide this film through to the end. Director Blerta Basholli shines a light on a real subject in her feature debut. Some of the decisions made by Basholli here are veteran moves and took some manner of gusto to pull. In particular the handling of the camera in certain familial situations. It’s personal and flies on the wall. Outside of those scenarios, the camera takes on a different responsibility. One of a documentarian of sorts. Recording all the matters in which the remaining men of the village spew hate towards the enterprising women of their village. I am of the belief that the script is really good. It’s not the most tightly packed thing and can somewhat get lost in its ideas but Basholli’s handling of her own script elevates it.

Our Grade: B-, Films made in this time period (Clinton era) and in this country specifically (Kosovo) tend to show a hopeless picture of this time period. Here we get a spot of hope in the darkness. One that’s excellently crafted. Some of the pacing issues, and there aren’t many, strike this a few points. Outside of that we’re left with a great first feature and an unexpected gem from a small nation in Eastern Europe. Check this one out when it comes out.

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