Fahrije Hoti, the protagonist of Kosovan filmmaker Blerta Basholli’s debut film, is a real person. After her husband went missing during the Kosovo War in 1999, she learnt to drive and founded a business selling local delicacies – much to the displeasure of the deeply conservative, patriarchal community. Basholli discovered the story via a local news report.

Yllka Gashi’s portrayal of Hoti is excellently controlled, as external forces (the search for a missing husband; an overwhelmingly hostile community; the relentless pressures of parenthood) constrict the socially acceptable range of emotions. Her bravery as the first to break free of restrictive gendered traditions brings the reward of a supportive collective of female coworkers, and with it moments of fleeting but warmly-felt joy. Hive is careful to acknowledge, however, that whilst thousands of civilians remain missing no closure and no ‘happy ending’ is possible.

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