Hive (2021)

BLERTA BASHOLLI

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

///, 2021. , , , , . Screenplay by Blerta Basholli. Cinematography by . Produced by , , . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by , . Film Editing by , .

It has been almost a decade since the massacre in the village of Krushë e Madhe left the place teeming with women who still do not have proof of their husbands’ remains. Some of them live in hope that their loved ones escaped the worst, but while Fahrije () allows her young daughter and her father-in-law to entertain this possibility, she seems quite certain that she is a widow.

Struggling to make ends meet and knowing that many of her peers are in the same boat, Fahrije comes up with the idea to get together with the other women of the village and make homemade ajvar (a popular condiment made from red peppers and eggplant) to sell in the local supermarket. In her conservative Muslim community, women’s roles are very strictly defined and Fahrije defies these limits with her efforts to get ahead, just her driving a car into town to work has her labeled a wanton woman by the men at the nearby café; the devastation of the Kosovo War has left behind a scarred psyche that is compounded by the mens’ enraged insecurities over the possibility that the women left behind could figure out a way to survive.

Fahrije keeps her head down and doesn’t speak out against the harassment that she suffers as the result of her plans, and eventually her friends join her in her project, turning it into quite a thriving business whose real-life results are detailed over the end credits of this smart, efficient film. Ignoring all the cheesy inspirational tropes that usually bog down the intelligence of a fact-based drama, first-time feature filmmaker Blerta Basholli encourages near-documentary-like realism from her actors as she builds the tension surrounding a seemingly simple but actually very emotionally involving and complex story.

Without us realizing it, we are drawn so deeply into Fahrije’s world and grow to care so much for her that the climax of her getting answers about her missing husband is shockingly emotional for the viewer. Gashi keeps the whole film on a steady track with her riveting lead performance, her powerful eyes the most effective element of the whole film.

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