A powerhouse performance from Yllka Gashi in Blerta Basholli’s enthralling film Hive, giving us an insight into how grieving women dealt with a patriarchal society that limits them at every turn – a marvellous drama
In March 1999, the Kosovan village of Krusha e Madhe was the site of a massacre that left 240 people dead or missing. Seven years later, the villagers live with not knowing the fate of their loved ones. Fahrije (Yllka Gashi) has become everything to her family – homemaker, plumber and provider. She hopes to start a small business selling the relish ajvar. Her determination to move on inspires the other women but is also a source of bitter conflict in a deeply patriarchal community.
While set in an era we may not have seen too often, there are many similarities in Hive to an abundance of a group of people overcoming adversity to not only just survive but also begin to survive. Add into this the focus on trauma. All of these women have been affected or are being affected by the loss of their partners and are constantly reminded that they cannot expect to wait for the minute chance that their husbands or partners may return. Even elder matriarchs inform them of what they should be doing as they are of a certain age.
Couple this with the difficulties of having to wait until investigators come to your door to inform you that your life partner is certainly not coming back, and your heart stays in your mouth for these women. Keeping a strength within them to keep going that few have. This part of Basholli’s true story works so well and helps separate it from what is expected.
Basholli also has to be incredibly careful with her story; after all, a lot of Hive is a true story, so she has to remain true to not only the real-life people in her story but the audience as well. She makes sure to leave no stone unturned to show the difficulty to which events that Fahrije encounters. Basholli marks herself as a filmmaker to watch as there are numerous moments in Hive that work so well due to her direction. Keeping the camera back subtly and unobtrusively at times as you think you are set in a documentary allows you to feel more for the characters than you normally would.
With that said, Gashi makes this film. While true and compelling, the story would not hold as much without her performance. Add in this daunting and heartbreaking setting, and Hive compels you to keep watching. As we witness her struggle just to put money on her family’s table, all the while trying to cope with the high possibility that her husband has been murdered and never to return. Her constant anger and frustration rarely leave her face as she battles everyone around her to make it and look after her children. So when we get those final moments with her and that façade falls, it hits all the more devastatingly.
You would be mistaken to assume that simply creating your own business with a group of fellow women in a town mostly dominated by women would not be as enthralling. Yet, in Hive, we witness Fahrije not just have to deal with hesitant partners in the business, but men who are so misogynistic and afraid of seeing women succeed that they may try and thrawt their hard efforts. We even see men who believe that just because they are helping a woman try and take advantage. Sadly for these men, they are up against the strongest women you could imagine and at no point are you not entranced by what goes on before you.
Hive is a wonderful example of Eastern European cinema on a steep incline at present. We are seeing some talents come through, and with writer/director Blerta Basholli and lead Yllka Gashi, the future is as bright as we have seen. A wonderful cinematic experience.
Hive will be shown during the Glasgow Film Festival in person on Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th March and digitally from Friday 4th to Monday 7th March. For more information click here.
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