In Kosovo, a woman (Yllka Gashi) believed to be widowed by the war is searching for answers (and her husband’s remains) so she can finally be at peace in “Hive,” writer / director Blerta Basholli’s stunning debut feature. The film is based on true events, and it’s an empowering tale of one woman’s strength and will to survive in an increasingly hostile environment.

Fahrije’s (Gashi) husband has been missing since the war, and she’s been making a modest amount of money selling honey from her bee hives. With business drying up and her bees producing less and less, she decides to take action and start a new business making homemade ajvar (a traditional red pepper relish) with the women in her village.

Faced with anger and disgust from the patriarchal society that treats females as second class citizens, Fahrije faces pushback from the men in the village. She must navigate a minefield of sexism as men hurl insults (and rocks) at her, try to sexually force themselves on her, and spread horrible gossip to everyone around town. They get even more enraged when she learns how to drive a car, telling Fahrije that her husband would’ve been so ashamed if he could see her behind the wheel.

While the story is set in Southeastern Europe, it highlights common struggles that women around the world can identify with on some level. It’s inspiring how determined Fahrije is to do all she can to make the best life for her struggling family.

Basholli’s excellent storytelling and rapid pacing highlight Gashi’s impressive lead performance, and the film feels more hopeful than demoralizing. That’s not an easy thing to do when the heart of the story is so sad.

“Hive” is a film about ambition, independence, and the will of a trailblazer to take a stand and make a change. It’s a fantastic cinematic expression of issues facing many women today, and it feels so good to see a film about a strong female challenging the status quo by pushing back on her society’s traditional gender roles.

By: Louisa Moore

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