“It’s a Choice: To Be a Filmmaker or a Human”: Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska on Honeyland

Filmmaker Magazine | 8/22/2019 | Daniel Eagan
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by Daniel Eagan

The award-winning documentary Honeyland marks the second collaboration between directors Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska. Set in Bekirlijia, a rural village in Macedonia, it focuses on Hatidze Muratova, who follows ancient beekeeping traditions while caring for her ailing mother Nazife. Despite her efforts to be self-sufficient, political and economic decisions have a profound effect on Hatidze and her ability to survive.

Synopses - Honeyland - Dull - Nature - Documentary

Synopses of Honeyland can make it seem like a dull, self-righteous nature documentary. Instead, it’s a film filled with contradictions and narrative reversals. Characters make self-destructive, at times inexplicable choices, often under the guise of kindness and generosity. Hatidze Muratova, ostensibly a woman living on the edge of society, possesses a strong set of survivor skills and a wily grasp of cultural change.

Filmmaker spoke with Stefanov and Kotevska during a press tour in August.

Filmmaker - First

Filmmaker: First off, can you describe how you work together?

Tamara Kotevska: You go straight to the point. I have the same question myself. Maybe we can tell both sides of the story. We have worked together on two films so far. This is our second. The first film [Lake of Apples, 2017] was also an environmental documentary, but very different from this one. That first film brought the team together—directors, cinematographers and the editor. Coming from completely different backgrounds and ages turned out to be an advantage, because we could contribute to different aspects of the story. We did a lot of experimenting to find the right format and came up with what in our opinion is a different, new kind of style. Having two directors was helpful, because we could split into teams. One director and one DP worked with one family, the other with the other. That way we could cover everything.

Filmmaker - Project

Filmmaker: Since this started as a commissioned project, how did you...
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