Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

The screening of the documentary film ‘Honeyland’ caused huge interest in Bitola

19 September, Bitola – The screening of the Macedonian Oscar candidate, Honeyland, caused huge interest with the audience, but also with the press today. The cinematographers Fejmi Saut and Samir Ljuma, as well as the producer and editor, Atanas Georgiev, revealed interesting moments from the shooting of the film.

-We all communicated with no problem, even though there were two directors and two cinematographers. Even now, at the screenings, when I look at the film, I can’t recognize which shots were done by me, and which ones were done by Fejmi. That compatibility of two cinematographers who are completely different points to the fact that we succeeded in making the film look like it was shot my one person, Ljuma said, explaining that the reason for which two cinematographers and two directors were working is, in fact, a video which was supposed to be shot in three months, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, it was actually a project for protection of the environment and because of the speed it needed in the making, such team was made, but the making of the video turned into this result that we have today.

In the film, the mother of Hatidze dies and they talked about those days of the shooting today:

-Hatidze’s mom really died during the shooting. She was in a difficult condition for a certain period of time and when they told us she died, we organized ourselves to get there and, since we thought that is really an intimate moment, we literally went in there for 15 minutes. But that is the explosive moment in documentary filmmaking. We hesitated about it, but we figured out that those moments give a bigger weight to the documentary filmmaking and we decided to shoot them, death, birth – when the cow gives birth and the bees closing the circle, the cinematographer Fejmi Daut said.

In the opinion of the producer and editor Atanas Georgiev, if someone was missing from that exact team of the film, it would not have been what it has become, and in terms of the campaign for its presentation, he said that they have to be creative.

-There is no money in documentaries. The most of the money came in when the film was almost finished, and we still spent all the money on the film. The larger part of the film, 80% is financed from abroad, from the San Francisco Film Fund and the Turkish Television, the North Macedonian Film Agency. The American company that represents us in the USA supported us with one million. We don’t have an expensive campaign and we have to be creative to be able to stand next to the other candidates. From an American viewpoint, we have a campaign with an extremely low budget and we will try to be creative. The honey jars are part of the creative piece of the campaign, which are actually sold door-to-door and everyone pays as much as they think they should for the honey jar, and the money goes to the community. The jars are limited, we only have about 100kg of honey, and also the members of the Academy that awards the Oscar are starting to ask for the honey, so it becomes interesting, Georgiev explained.

Fejmi Daut talked about the experience when he was stung by the bees while shooting.

-We had no protection while shooting. Seeing Hatidze, we gained trust that there would be no danger, but I was the only one that got stung by a bee during the shooting, but it all ended well. I was attacked by the bees on the high rocks where Hatidze goes to collect the honey, I was shooting shirtless in the middle of the summer and when the bees attacked, I hopped up to the top like a mountain goat to run away and I am still not aware of how I managed to climb up there, Daut said.

Hatidze was present at a few festivals by her wish, but the team thinks that she should remain a beekeeper and go back to normal life, which is anyway already turned upside down since the shooting of Honeyland.

-She chose to travel to Turkey and the USA, but she has never traveled with a plane before, she was never in a hotel, she has never seen a film in a cinema, and we have the opportunity to see how all that rolled her life over. She is actually a born star who just hasn’t had the opportunity to show it so far. She is very good in front of the camera and the microphone, goes on stage, composes songs etc. From the budget we had, we got a small house for her where she has relative and where she wanted to move. We also help the children form the other family because we want for them to be on the right path. According to me, I would rather one of the older children to be educated in film and travel with us on festivals, than Hatidze, Georgiev said.

He pointed out that even besides the showcasing of the scarce living conditions, the goal is to transfer the message for the environment, and not the beauty or poverty.

-All the scenes are just a façade for the story we wanted to tell, Georgiev pointed out.