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‘Honeyland’ crew dismisses rumors about leaving protagonists helpless

Documentary filmmakers shouldn't intervene in protagonists' lives, the 'Honeyland' team said in a written statement addressing rumors about their Oscar-nominated movie's beekeeper being left destitute. Even so, they say, the crew "broke the rules" of documentary ethics and helped Hatidzhe, while also taking care not to put an end to hers and the Sam family's welfare benefits while they waited for the government to provide them with monthly support.

Skopje, 25 November 2020 (MIA) — Documentary filmmakers shouldn’t intervene in protagonists’ lives, the ‘Honeyland’ team said in a written statement addressing rumors about their Oscar-nominated movie’s beekeeper being left destitute. Even so, they say, the crew “broke the rules” of documentary ethics and helped Hatidzhe, while also taking care not to put an end to hers and the Sam family’s welfare benefits while they waited for the government to provide them with monthly support.

Advised by legal experts and social workers, the ‘Honeyland’ crew founded the Bekirlija NGO to help the protagonists, according to the statement.

An account was set up for donations, which included contributions from the Government and the City of Skopje.

“At Hatidzhe Muratova’s request, a house was bought and then fully furnished with interior decor, a bathroom, homeware, a bed, household appliances, etc.,” the filmmakers say.

“More than a hundred boxes of food and medicines were supplied, and private health appointments paid. Every winter, wood was provided for heating.

“We also covered her travel to festivals worldwide: Nyon (Switzerland), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Ayvalik (Turkey), New York and Hollywood (USA). In addition to the plane tickets, we provided her with accommodation and a personal assistant.

“The Sam family was given a car. Their house was repaired several times so they could pass the winter there. Furnishings were bought for them. Medicines and large quantities of food were being sent all the time,” the statement continues.

“Additionally, they were provided with a computer so the children could follow online classes this year.”

However, the statement explains, the protagonists were on welfare, which would have stopped if they had been given additional funding from the account.

This is why, the filmmakers say, they were waiting for “the institutions to develop a model of monthly payments of a specific amount without them losing their welfare.”

“So that the public is not deluded in any way, we have now decided to give the entire lump sum to the protagonists instead of looking for a legal solution for them to receive monthly support that wouldn’t cancel their welfare benefits,” the filmmakers reiterate.

They are also closing the Bekirlija NGO and the donations account.

Hatidzhe Muratova, they point out, had signed a document giving them the right to use her performance in the film.

“In documentary filmmaking, there’s a principle of not paying any compensation to the protagonists or intervening in their lives.

“But we, out of empathy for them, decided to help regardless. The aforementioned donations and activities are proof they were not forgotten by the team. On the contrary, they were given selfless help.”

The film crew, according to their statement, didn’t make money from the millions mentioned in the media. That money has ended up with the distributors who funded the promotional activities, they say, adding that only “the Oscars campaign cost more than the sums they mention.”

“Macedonia and the world,” according to the filmmakers, “are full of powerful stories that deserve to be documented, and we will continue to create with the same intensity and commitment.

“People like our protagonists are many, but documentary filmmakers like us are few.”

Saying they are convinced their next projects will again conquer festivals, the filmmakers note that their “work as culture promoters continues.” mr/

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