Hope and healing in Kosovo’s Oscar entry ‘Hive’


Last January, filmmaker Blerta Basholli was just happy she had gotten into the Sundance Film Festival with her debut feature “Hive.”

The Albanian-language film about a woman who starts her own business after the Kosovo War was an inspirational gem, but Basholli hadn’t even dared to dream of just how far they would go.
Not only did it become the first film in Sundance history to win the top three awards in the world cinema competition, now it has a strong chance of becoming Kosovo’s first Oscar contender in the best international feature category.
“Hive,” which comes to video on demand on Feb. 1 and The Criterion Channel on Feb. 9, is based on the true story of Fahrije Hoti, who during the 1998-1999 Kosovo War fled her small town of Krusha e Madhe with her young children. When she returned, her husband was missing and likely dead and she had no way of supporting her family. Bucking tradition and expectations, Hoti banded together with fellow war widows and began jarring and selling homemade ajvar, a condiment made with red peppers, to local markets.
Her business, Kooperativa Krusha, is still operating today.
Basholli came across Hoti’s story in the news years ago, around the time she was getting her MFA from New York University. She knew it should be a film and that Yllka Gashi, a well-known actor in Kosovo, should star. Basholli and Gashi met with Hoti around 2011 and it further reinforced their mission to tell her story. But it would take almost nine years to get the film off the ground and another two before it would have its Cinderella moment at Sundance.