Nestled in an isolated mountain region deep within the Balkans, Hatidze Muratova lives with her ailing mother in a village without roads, electricity or running water. She’s the last in a long line of Macedonian wild beekeepers, eking out a living farming honey in small batches to be sold in the closest city – a mere four hours’ walk away. Hatidze’s peaceful existence is thrown into upheaval by the arrival of an itinerant family, with their roaring engines, seven rambunctious children and herd of cattle. The last female wild beekeeper in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.
A well-known documentary with over 35 awards received at the most prestigious film festivals all over the world, and nominations for Oscars in the categories Best International Feature Film and Best Documentary. Today many people recognize the motto of Honeyland hero Hatidze Muratova: ‘take half of the honey and leave the other half for the bees. If one breaks the rule, everyone pays the price.’ But not many people know that Hatidze, the last known woman practicing wild beekeeping in Europe, was discovered through the Nature Conservation Programme (NCP) of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). So, how did it all start?
Since 2012, Switzerland has been supporting the Nature Conservation Programme in North Macedonia which aims to support the country in conserving its natural ecosystems and outstanding biodiversity through promotion of their sustainable use and management. The target area of the the programme is the Bregalnica region. In the first three years of the project, more than 30 experts were engaged to conduct research about the biodiversity in this region. The results showed that the Bregalnica region is of extraordinary geomorphological and biodiversity significance with a highly diverse flora and fauna. During these field visits the experts met Hatidze and discovered her unique style of beekeeping and honey production.
“The film is multilayered, it shows life - by itself. It covers birth, life and death. The main message is that there should be a fair division, e.g. use of natural resources. That is actually the principle of Hatidze's beekeeping”, says director Ljubomir Stefanov.
The film screening will be followed by a reception, including canapés and Swiss wine.