By Admir Fazlagikj and Dzihat Aliju
BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - After taking the lead role in Oscar-nominated documentary Honeyland, Hatice (Atidze) Muratova left behind her previous life of poverty.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Muratova told her story that begins in a poor rural village in North Macedonia, leading in Oscar nominees.
She led a routine life in her village of Bekirli, until a Bajram day that Muratova made a wish.
"I made an Eid wish. I said: 'Allah, I'm going through some troubles. May someone opens my door so I can get over these problems,'" said Muratova.
Three days later, the film crew for Honeyland knocked on her door, and she found herself the main protagonist of the documentary on beekeeping.
Honeyland tells the story of 50-year old Hatice -- the last woman in Europe versed in the ancient art of wild bee breading.
The film's producers stumbled upon beehives among the rocks in the region and began investigating what they might be.
Muratova said that they asked around after deciding to shoot the film and tracked her down after a number of previous candidates failed to do the job.
Her love for bees and honey was based on her childhood years.
At an early age, financial difficulties forced Muratova to learn to make honey, as her father could not afford to buy honey.
Father Muratov could only buy a small amount of honey, which was not enough for his children.
It was at that young age that Muratova told her family she would learn to make honey.
Recounting her experiences in front of the camera, Muratova said that at the beginning of the shooting, she was timid and afraid. It was very difficult for her through the first two months. However, she got used to shooting after a while, with their odds of success with the documentary ever-improving.
She was ecstatic when the film crew promised to buy her a new home if they succeeded in their efforts.
The film received the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival held in the U.S. in 2019.
Directors Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska received the Grand Jury Prize, while Femi Daut and Samir Luma from the video team were also awarded the Special Jury Prize.
Muratova said her ancestors were Turkish and hailed from present-day Turkey's central province of Konya. However, she preferred to describe herself as an "old Turk," rather than "yoruk," which denotes nomadic Turkish tribes.
Today, Muratova continues her humble life in a new home in Dorfullu village, which has a more central location.
Muratova also expressed her support and regards to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and also requested a mosque be built in her new village.
"Now we are 30 Turkish households. We also need a mosque, don't we?" she said, complaining that the Muslim Turkish inhabitants were ignorant of the religion.
"I know some prayers, but ask a little child, they wouldn't know," said Muratova.
Muratova concluded her interview with a traditional song of Rumelia.
Honeyland was shot as part of an environmental protection program with the support of the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency and the Macedonian Film Agency.
It was the first Macedonian documentary to be nominated in the Academy Awards as an International Feature Film in 25 years. The last time a Macedonian film received an Oscar nomination was in 1994.
Honeyland has also been nominated in the Feature Documentary category.
It is the first film to be nominated for both International Feature Film and Feature Documentary at the same time.