FILMMAKERS broke rule for documentaries and changed ''subjects'' lives.

When the producer and two directors of 'Honeyland' returned to the setting of their documentary in North Macedonia for the first time since it earned two ''Oscar nominations'' in February, something fundamental has changed.

The film chronicles the tensions between Hatidze Muratova, a local beekeeper, and a farmer in the remote hamlet of Bekirlija. 

Squeezed between two rocky hills and circled by imperial eagles, the village was still reachable only in an off-road vehicle, via a steep, rutted track. Most of the houses were still in ruins, slowly sliding into the undergrowth.

And Ms. Muratova, one of the hamlet's last inhabitants and the star of Honeyland was still waiting for the filmmakers with a smile and a strong coffee. But Ms. Muratova's cramped living room, site of the movie's most scene, no longer felt lived in.

''Now this place and these people are different,'' said a wistful Ljubomir Stefanov, one of the film's directors, sitting in Ms. Muratova's garden. ''And I can feel that she feels that this is not her only home.''

That was largely thanks to Mr. Stefanov and his fellow filmmakers. Using prize money won by the film, the crew had found her a new house in Dorfulija, a large and wealthier village about an half hour's drive away. She now divides her time between the two villages.

And that change speaks to a wider ethical conundrum that Mr. Stefanov and his colleagues have grappled with since finishing filming - one that has long troubled documentary filmmakers.

As observers, should they ever help their subjects? And as humans, how could they ever not?

Some Documentary crews maintain a professional distance even after filming stops

''But we decided to break that rule,'' said Atanas Georgiev, the film's producer.

The film depicts how Ms. Muratova and Hussein Sam, a seminomadic farmer, tried to coexist in one of the poorest pockets of North Macedonia.

At the time of filming, Ms. Muratova lived year-round in Bekirlija, while Mr. Sam's chaotic family usually only visited during the summer, disrupting Ms. Mutayova's quiet existence.

The film was shot on a shoestring budget, and turned its makers into darlings of the documentary circuit. It also made Ms. Muratova perhaps the world's most famous beekeeper.

It won three prizes at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for best documentary and best international features at this year's Academy Awards .

A.O.Scott, the co-chief film critic of The New York Times, named it the No. 1 movie of 2019.

The World Students Society thanks author Patrick Kingsley.


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