Documentary carries Macedonian beekeeper out of poverty
In an interview with the state-run Anadolu Agency, Muratova told her story that begins in a poor rural village in North Macedonia before leading the Oscar nominees.
She led a routine life in her village of Bekirli, until a day that Muratova made a wish.
“I made an Eid wish. I said: ‘Allah, I’m going through some troubles. May someone open my door so I can overcome these problems,’” said Muratova.
Three days later, the film crew for “Honeyland” knocked on her door, and she found herself as the main protagonist of the documentary on beekeeping.
“Honeyland” tells the story of 50-year-old Hatice, the last woman in Europe versed in the ancient art of wild bee breading.
The film’s producers stumbled upon beehives among the rocks in the region and began investigating what they might be.
Muratova said that they asked around after deciding to shoot the film and found her after a number of previous candidates failed to do the job.
Her love for bees and honey goes back to her childhood years.
At an early age, financial difficulties forced Muratova to learn to make honey, as her father could not afford to buy honey. Recounting her experiences in front of the camera, Muratova said was ecstatic when the film crew promised to buy her a new home if they succeeded in their efforts.
The film received the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival held in the U.S. in 2019.
Directors Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska received the Grand Jury Prize, while Femi Daut and Samir Luma from the video team were also awarded the Special Jury Prize.
Muratova said her ancestors were Turkish. However, she preferred to describe herself as an “old Turk,” rather than “yörük,” which denotes nomadic Turkish tribes.
Today, Muratova continues her humble life in a new home in Dorfullu village, which is located more centrally.
“Honeyland” was shot as part of an environmental protection program with the support of the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency and the Macedonian Film Agency.
It was the first Macedonian documentary to be nominated in the Academy Awards as an International Feature Film in 25 years. The last time a Macedonian film received an Oscar nomination was in 1994. “Honeyland” has also been nominated in the Feature Documentary category.