In Swiss movie theatres, the only one capable of overtaking the bees was 007 (in Skyfall). More than Honey comes second in the eyes of the spectators (measured in movie theatre entrances), right after the new James Bond movie. What an immense success for a documentary with a serious storyline!
Here are parts of the Board’s assessment in translation:
- An important film about a disquieting development of our time. And a monument to the little heroes of the air.
- This very present documentary cannot be too highly praised for its concise content and exceptional workmanship.
- Director Markus Imhoof manages without a morally wagging finger
- The prosaic view is a special strength of this documentary. It allows the viewers to think for themselves and to draw their own conclusions…
- Thanks to an absolutely spectacular cinematography viewers cannot only satisfy their thirst for wisdom but delight in the pictures as well.
- The comments are reduced to the main points. The selection of protagonists and experts is very concentrated. The film never delivers too much or superfluous information. Imhoof succeeded exemplarily in sighting, sorting and concentrating his material.
- Full text in German here: Begründung und Pressetext
The German Film and Media Assessment Board (FBW) awards outstanding movies with the extinction “valuable” or “exceptionally valuable”. Groups of five film experts from all over Germany form independent juries, which decide on the films to be bestowed with the award. Films are judged within their genre.
More here in German Deutsche Filmbewertung
Hooded figures gathering around beat-up utility vehicles (“utes”), white boxes placed in rows under trees, smoke in the air…. No, guess again, it is not the Ku-Klux Clan.
A sunny day, perfectly confortable temperature, birds singing and the final clue: incessant buzzing… That’s it. The breeder queens are back in town.
My old, low-laying Holden Commodore gets a belly-rub up the short bit of sandy track, then joins his hard working four-wheel-drive friends under the trees. I gear up in my white bee-suit and work boots and join the others. The hooded figures represent “Better Bees Western Australia”, a group of beekeepers who built up a bee-breeding program over the last 25 years.
Together with other scientists from CIBER I am here to learn, “have a chinwag” and to help with the annual clipping of the wings.
“We observe our beehives over the year. We want the ones that are healthy. That means they are vigorous, producing lots of workers and still plenty of honey. Working with them, we don’t want to get stung all the time, so we want them friendly, as well” explains Collin Fleay the criteria by which virgin queen daughters and males (drones) are selected from the best hives. They are then supplied with a honeycomb for food and workers for support and shipped on to Rottnest Island.
The island is too far away for bees to reach the mainland, that is why there are almost no escaped bees from other hives (feral bees), which could interfere with the breeding program. Therefore, the “Better Bee” virgin queens and drones can hold their wedding flights undisturbed. The virgins fly out to mate on the wing with up to 40 drones. They save the sperm in an organ called “spermatheca” where they keep it alive for up to five years. They will never mate again all their lives. The drones die. Mated queens start laying eggs, founding a new colony.
It is a risky business. Opening one of these hives is like opening a criminal novel. “Too frizzy” – “yep, nobody there” I hear more often than I like. Flying queens get eaten by birds, don’t find the way back to the hive, dye in the rain… “Brood too young”, “queen too small”, “self-raised” The workers then take matters in their own legs and feed up a larva with royal jelly to crown their own queen. “Do you keep these?” I ask. “Yes, they can be quite good. However we do not mark them”. Finally “Beautiful brood”, “lots of honey”, “Careful – there she is”. Gentle fingers pick the queen up and place a pink spot onto her thorax. She gets her right wing clipped by 1/3 because the workers might chew off the color later. On “Her Majesty”, the breeder queen, rests a lot of hope for the future for “Better Bees” and a successful honey harvest this season.
In 2012, US beekeepers will harvest a record poor honey crop for the second year in a row. Additionally, they will feed more calories to their honeybees than they were able to harvest for the third year in a row. These are both unprecedented events, reports John Miller, large-scale beekeeper (Miller Honey Farms, North Dakota) and one of the main protagonists in the film “More than Honey”.
He suspects the poor harvest to be caused by a drought in California and North Dakota, where this year’s winter months only brought half their usual rainfall. Therefore, not enough plants were able to bloom which produced less to eat for the bees and a slower buildup of the hives in spring. Miller claims that too much corn- and soybean- instead of flowering crops cause additional food shortage stress for the honeybees in North Dakota.
Saturday, 11. August 2012, Locarno, International Film Festival
It was great to be in Locarno for the first public screening of the movie. A number of people from the crew (see picture) were present and it was the first time they actually met each other. The day was hectic and packed with interviews and photo shootings. The interest by the press in the movie was substantial and the first critics have already been published.
Despite the fact that the movie started very late, the Piazza Grande was packed with 8000 people when Markus got onto the stage to introduce the movie and the cast. He mentioned that the movie is also about his own family: His grandfather already kept 150 bee hives and his daughter and her family are now researchers in Australia working on honeybees.
“Imagine the people sitting on the Piazza Grande, and multiply them by eight all sitting on eight additional levels up above. All of them are sisters and brothers and they all live together in a complete darkness. You are then in a honeybee hive. A small hole in the front opens a view to the outside world, and that world in front of you shall be the screen tonight. Have a good flight”
With dazzling nature photography, Academy Award®–nominated director Markus Imhoof (The Boat is Full) takes a global examination of endangered honeybees — spanning California, Switzerland, China and Australia — more ambitious than any previous work on the topic.
To New Clip
Our programmers have earned a reputation for excellence, and a diverse array of films are shown: Hollywood galas, complete with red carpet glamour; the best in international cinema, the latest homegrown comedies… and everything in between.
Our films are divided into Programmes to help guide your choices. Love horror flicks? Check out Midnight Madness! Feeling edgy? Try Vanguard. Need a mini stay-cation? Contemporary World Cinema may be for you.” – (copied from the tiff-webpage)
Piazza Grande Locarno, Switzerland
- 8. August 2012 World Premiere and kick-off European Tour at International Film Festival in Locarno, Switzerland, to see more click Locarno Film Festival Official Webpage
- 04. October 2012 Premiere in Vienna, Austria
- 12. October 2012 Launch in Austrian movie theatres by distributor “filmladen Filmverleih GmbH”
- 21. October 2012 Pre-Premiere in Germany at “Klimaherbst München” in the “Arri” movie theatres
- 25. October 2012 Launch in Swiss movie theatres by distributor “Frenetic Films Zürich”
- 08. November 2012 Launch in German movie theatres by distributor “Senator Entertainment AG”, with premieres in Berlin und Munich
- January 2013 launch in France, by the distributor “jour2fete”
“More than Honey” will conclude the 65th film festival in Locarno on the 11th of August 2012. It will be shown on the Piazza Grande.
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“The Piazza Grande, which seats up to 8,000 viewers a night, is both the heart of the Festival and its showcase. With its giant screen, one of the biggest in Europe, endowed with truly exceptional projection quality, the Piazza Grande is one of the finest open-air venues in the world. This magnificent and unique setting is where every night all the many and diverse festival audiences come together for a big cinematic event. The programming on the Piazza Grande offers prestigious screenings, most of them world, international or European premieres, introduced by the director and the cast.” Cited from the press release of the Locarno Film Festival 2012.
Honeybees and humans have lived together for more than 10 000 years. This makes the bee to one of the oldest domestic animals ever. This relationship has been taken for granted until recently. However, over the last few years, our bee populations declined dramatically.
This blog has been created to accompany the film “More than Honey”, which will be launched in German speaking movie theatres between the end of October and the beginning of November 2012. The blog will be updated with recent news about the movie and background information about bees.