By: Amanda Guarragi
The Honey Makers is a short film that explores the social climate in England. Based on the award-winning play by Deborah Grimberg, the film, set in 1984 London, tells the story of two Indian immigrants from Uganda who struggle to create a home in the face of mounting resentment, while dealing with a bee invasion in their own garden. Director Jeneffa Soldatic showed certain people in London taking what is theirs. They mark their territory and come in swarms. If you don’t address them, they could stay awhile. There is a shop that is owned by a couple named, Arjun (Anil Goutam) and Lalita (Nila Aalia), who came from Uganda to open their shop. They find that there is a bees nest in their backyard and they don’t know how to handle it. Lalita wants to get rid of it, but Arjun has gotten used to the bees being in his backyard, and doesn’t mind that they are there.
What is so interesting about The Honey Makers is how Soldatic shows the parallel between the bees and the swarm of Londoners outside the shop. In such a short amount of time, we see how Lalita and Arjun are affected by the men outside the shop. They are verbally abused and bullied by these men, who take it upon themselves to storm the shop and take what they want. It shows the racism from different perspectives, and how everyone handles the situation. Arjun does not want to cause further issues so like the bees, he pretends that these men outside the shop don’t bother him. Lalita, on the other hand, takes matters into her own hands and calls a beekeeper behind Arjun’s back.
What is really interesting about the second half of this short film is how the beekeeper, named Arthur (Finbar Lynch) approached the swarm of bees. He understands that they are nuisance, but they needed to be handled in a certain way in order for them to leave. The racism is addressed with Arthur, as he mistakenly makes the assumption that Arjun and Lalita are from Pakistan. Arjun and Lalita educate Arthur, and you can see the shift in his mindset. The strength lies in the structure of this film, as each moments shared between the thugs and the couple, lead to an even bigger blowout. The final stand-off is powerful and it has a great performance by Goutam.
The Honey Makers takes a very simple story and adds so much tension within the runtime. Even though there is a beehive in their backyard, Soldatic only showed them a couple of times. It was the presence of the bees, that set the symbolism for the Londoners swarming their shop. There are ways to approach difficult situations and Arjun allowed himself to think before doing anything drastic. The short film has strong, emotional moments, and it is filled with tension as it builds to a powerful conclusion. With great performances from the entire cast, this film will definitely pull at your heartstrings, and will put you in their position.