Words: Mark Perkins

It’s no great revelation that the misery of war extends well beyond the fighting, and Hive profoundly explores a widow’s struggle to rebuild her family’s life in the aftermath of the Kosovo War. And if it were possible to make things worse, she’s not even officially a widow. Her husband disappeared in a town where men were rounded up and slaughtered seven years previously, but his body has never been identified or found.

There’s no hint of sentimentality in this superb film, where Ylka Gashi plays Fahrije, who struggles to support her children and her father-in-law by selling honey. She decides to take further control and tries to sell homemade pepper sauce to make more money, but Fahrije is opposed at every turn by the cultural expectations of the people she lives amongst; they want her to be respectfully waiting for her husband to return, and even the women around her find it hard to support what she is trying to achieve. She herself struggles with the complexities of balancing her family and community obligations with a conviction that what she is doing is right.

It’s all based on the true story of the real Fahrije, who we finally get to see as the credits roll. It’s difficult at times not to feel this is now real footage, as it would be no struggle at all to sell this as a documentary. At no point in the entire film does it seem like anyone is acting; it is a true triumph of cinéma vérité. Bierta Basholli’s film of a woman’s struggle against the patriarchal environment where she lives has already started to win awards – and deservedly so. It will inevitably get a limited cinema run up against the big Hollywood giants, but this perfectly crafted story will live with me much longer than the adventures of Bruce Wayne or some Belgian detective. In fact, I doubt I’ll see a more engrossing film this year.


Exposed saw Hive as part of a press screening at The Showroom Cinema. Head to for the latest film listings and news.

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