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Elisabeth Moss and ‘Hive’ Director Blerta Basholli on the Art of Telling True Stories About Complex Women

"When you have strong female characters, I think a lot of people think that they have to be vulnerable or they have to be weak," Moss said. "But clearly, with this being based on a real woman, you have to follow the true narrative."

Hive

“Hive”

Sundance Film Festival

Writer-director Blerta Basholli recently made her feature film debut with “Hive,” which tells the true story of Fahrije Hoti, a Kosovan woman who started manufacturing and selling a red pepper spread as a way of employing widows in her troubled village. The film, Kosovo’s official entry for Best International Feature, attracted plenty of fans after its 2021 Sundance premiere, including Elisabeth Moss. The “Mad Men” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” star said she watched the film multiple times and was thoroughly impressed by the story, so much so that she came on board the film as an executive producer alongside Love & Squalor Pictures partner Lindsey McManus.

Moss recently sat down with Basholli to have a conversation about the artistic choices required to make a compelling film based on a true story, and IndieWire is pleased to exclusively debut the conversation in full.

Basholli said that she was always drawn to Hoti’s story, and her admiration for her only grew as they spent time together. Once she got to know Hoti, it was never a question of whether or not she would make a movie about her, but simply a decision about which angle to use. “I always say I could have done many films about her,” Basholli said. “And that was the biggest decision to make when you’re basing a film on a true story. Because how do you make a fiction film, which is not a documentary, and then still focus the story around the person you admire so much?”

Moss praised the film’s unapologetic portrayal of a strong female protagonist, as well as Basholli’s refusal to unnecessarily soften the character. “When you have strong female characters, I think a lot of people think that they have to be vulnerable or they have to be weak or they have to grow to that place,” she said. “But clearly, with this being based on a real woman, you have to follow the true narrative. And I agree, she obviously was a very special person to be able to have the journey in her life that she did.”

Basholli knows that she could only include so many aspects of Hoti’s incredible life, but she hopes that the stories she chose will help build a legacy for widowed entrepreneur. “I just really tried to remember what impressed me most from her, and what was going to impress the audience as well, and that was her success story. Her empowering story, how she created and kept together that community of women who easily could have gone separately, and maybe even could have gone crazy from suffering so much,” she said. “And then just really always waiting for someone to help her.”

The filmmaker added, “In many ways, she did such great things. I don’t know if she was even aware of the scope of the good she was doing.”

Watch the full conversation between Moss and Basholli, an IndieWire exclusive, below.

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