'Honeyland': One film that nobody will recommend, but you must watch

Written By: K Krishnakumar
Delhi Published: Jan 28, 2020, 01:43 PM(IST)

Honeyland - Screenshot From YouTube Photograph:( Others )

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'Honeyland' is nominated in both the non-fiction and fiction categories of the awards.

If there's one film that I would personally recommend that you must watch this Oscar season, then it would be a film called 'Honeyland'.

Mainly because almost nobody else is going to suggest it to you! It's a documentary set in North Macedonia. (Documentary? no... and where in God's name is North Macedonia??)

But I have my reasons.

First, in our extremely low-attention span times, you would be glad to know that the film is only 85 minutes long. One way or the other you won't regret it much. 

Next, it's about honey. Hard to find people who hate it. If you do, please stop reading right now.

And last but definitely not the least, it's the first time in history that a film is nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Award, as well as, the Best International Feature Award.

'Honeyland' is a film that breaks barriers in terms of what even constitutes a movie. In technical terms, it is nominated in both the non-fiction and fiction categories of the awards.

In simple terms, a documentary is being nominated for a Best Film Award too. Now that's a rarity for any awards ceremony, leave alone the Oscars.


In 2004, Michael Moore’s documentary film "Fahrenheit 9/11" beat 18 other movies to win the coveted Palme d'Or - the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

And that was only the second documentary in history to do so at Cannes. The first one being 'The Silent World'. Co-directed by Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle, it won the Palme d'Or in 1956.

Moore's documentary was a no-show at the Oscars though.

Not even slightly because it wasn't good enough, but because Moore decided to go in for a pay-per-view televising of the film. So that shut the film out from even the Best Documentary nomination.

Cut to now.

So all that means, you would be watching something very unique - brag alert here - its title might sound simple and straightforward. But that's only a decoy, even the story behind the making of it is fascinating. 

Picture this:

A couple of Russian Documentary filmmakers, shooting in the remote countryside of North Macedonia. The plan is to shoot a short environmental documentary about a river. They don't know the local language which is not even the national language of this newly formed country that declared its independence in 1991.

And accidentally they discover beehives and the woman who tends to them. They didn’t speak Turkish - the preferred language of the film’s main subjects.

They would sleep in tents in the Protagonist's backyard for 3-4 days together. And that went on for over 3 years which means hundreds of hours of footage.

The filmmakers then spent nearly 4 months watching what they have shot after which they crunched into less than an hour and a half.

The visuals should tell you the story all by themselves. Honeyland started off with a bang at the awards circuit, winning at the Sundance Film Festival. And the rest as they all always say is history.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL) 


K Krishnakumar

Krishna Kumar is a TV news Anchor at WION(World Is One) in Delhi NCR. A senior broadcast journalist, he has expertise in a wide gamut of subjects including Business, Politics, Films & Entertainment, Technology and Sports.

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