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A scene from Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska’s documentary Honeyland.

Samir Ljuma/Sundance Institute

The gorgeous documentary about a Macedonian beekeeper is in theaters.

Metacritic score: 87

Honeyland is a vibrant, fascinating, and sober documentary that examines a serious issue — the endangerment of bees — by way of a gorgeous human portrait. Hatidze Muratova is the last beekeeper in Macedonia, who lives on a quiet, secluded mountain and cares for her elderly mother. Her life’s work, as she sees it, isn’t just to keep the bees; it’s to help restore balance to the ecosystem around her, and bees are a vital part of that.

But that solitude is disrupted when a family of nomadic beekeepers arrive, seeking honey to sell. They not only disrupt Muratova and threaten the insects’ existence — they also invade an established way of life on the relatively untouched mountain. As the film progresses, different ways of thinking about commerce as well as beekeeping and the natural world come together in a story that is sometimes funny, sometimes beautiful, and often enlightening. And it is one of the most beautiful portraits of love, work, and life that you’ll see in nonfiction film this year.

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