Hive - Zgjoi is a film written and directed by Blerta Basholli. It is a powerful and honest portrayal of a woman’s journey from barely surviving a horrific war to making a place for herself in a fragile reality. Yllka Gashi’s intensely captivating performance, in the lead role, makes it possible for any audience to understand the depicted tragedy and triumph on a human level.
Fahrije Hoti, the woman whose life’s story inspired Blerta Basholli’s Hive, survived the bloody 1999 war in Kosova with her teenage daughter, young son, and paralyzed father-in-law. Her husband was among the many Albanians who disappeared during the war. The aftermath was devastating on many levels. Every household was affected by the war. 15000 Albanians lost their lives. 2.7 million people were displaced. 1600 remain missing to this day. The political games continue with little regard or much consideration for those who were directly affected by the war. After all, humanity has a prescribed role for victims. Survivors are supposed to let others, including the victimizers, dictate their fate. Fahrije was not going to allow anyone to dictate her path forward. She took matters into her own hands. Fahrije learned to care for her husband’s bee hives to sell honey to make a living. But she knew she had to do more than just survive. She had to challenge the status quo to be seen and considered a full member of society. She worked hard, first alone, then with the help of a collective of women in her village, to make and sell ajvar, a popular vegetable spread. Fahrije’s story is a reminder that the hero’s journey is in many cases a heroine’s journey. Surviving a war means more than physical survival. For a woman, it takes tons of energy and fortitude to make it out alive and find ways to regenerate after a traumatic experience.
Blerta Basholli and Yllka Gashi were war refugees in 1999. Their Hive is not concerned with political statements. The film does not have colorful settings and bright lights that are generally metaphors for love and hope. Nevertheless, Hive is inspiring in that it spotlights the story of a woman who finds the strength within her to come back from a hellish experience and carve a place that fits her vision of what her life is about. Hive is the first Albanian language drama to win many prestigious international awards including all the three main awards of The Sundance Film Festival - the Grand Jury Prize, the Audience Award and the Directing Award. It is Kosova's entry for this year’s international feature Oscar.