Film Review: ‘Hive’ (2021)

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Stars: Yllka Gashi, Cun Lajci, Aurita Agushi
Director: Blerta Basholli
Distributor: Altitude Film Distribution

“You’re daydreaming a lot.”

With the Balkan wars, specifically that in Kosovo, featuring as the backdrop, Blerta Basholli presents the story of a Kosovan woman’s fight against misogyny and grief, based upon the true story of Fahrije Hoti and her production of ajvar in the late 90s.

Hive opens in a tragically graphic manner with the depiction of widows observing a mass array of body bags, hoping not to find their missing husband lying within. The focus is upon Fahrije (Yllka Gashi) as she desperately climbs onboard the back of a lorry in pursuit of what could be her missing husband. 

In the meantime, Fahrije tends to the bee hives initially set up by her husband where honey is produced for her father in law, Haxhi (Cun Lajci), to sell on the local market. Along with her wheelchair-bound father in law, Fahrije also lives with her two children, but without a father figure in their lives, they seem somewhat estranged themselves.  

Fahrije attempts to rally the other widows/presumed widows in pursuit of making their lives a little more worthwhile. When Fahrije overcomes the odds and obtains a driving license, she begins to receive abuse from the misogynistic elders of the town. The verbal abuse, and delusion towards a woman, reaches the extent of her own daughter calling her a “whore”. 

Settling with both agony and grief, and now equipped with a driving license, the local production of ajvar not only keeps her husband’s spirit alive, but it is an attempt at liberation for the widows/presumed widows of Kosovo.

Hives is almost the antithesis of the community spirit concept. There is no real happy ending. Yes, the product makes it onto the supermarket shelves, but the widows are still without their husbands; still without answers, and this is the closest thing to closure. 

Thematically, Hive is about moving on and refusing to move on. The women/widows seek a new purpose beyond their former misogynistic role. Initially, Haxhi fails to accept/acknowledge that his son is most likely dead and never coming home, thus refusing to submit DNA/blood to match a potential body.

All throughout, Hive is a beautifully shot film. The cinematography is consistently excellent. The close-ups of Fahrije are strong in exemplifying the struggle of her life. Yllka Gashi is excellent. A performance with, for the most part, minimal dialogue, is sold purely on expression and how it is captured. 

Ultimately, an excellent film equipped with powerful performances and the imagery in which it is presented. Though, for all of its greatness, there is an ill feeling when it concludes. But that is real life. This isn’t a story of happiness or joy, it’s a story of overcoming oppression and fighting for one’s existence.

Hive is now available to watch in UK cinemas. Many thanks to Altitude Film Distribution for the pleasure of this film, and HOME Manchester for exhibition.

4 Stars


For John.

This article’s featured image: By Source,, Fair Use 

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