Before the Rain (1994 film)

Before the Rain (Macedonian: Пред дождот, Pred doždot) is a 1994 film written and directed by Milcho Manchevski. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award. The film stars Katrin Cartlidge, Rade Šerbedžija, Grégoire Colin and Labina Mitevska and features an original score by the band Anastasia.

Before the Rain
Пред дождот
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMilcho Manchevski
Produced byMarc Baschet
Written byMilcho Manchevski
StarringKatrin Cartlidge
Rade Serbedzija
Gregoire Colin
Music byAnastasia
CinematographyManuel Teran
Edited byNicolas Gaster
Distributed byMikado Film (Italy), Gramercy Pictures (US), Electric Film (UK), Pandora (Germany), Daiei (Japan), Lumiere (Brazil), Vardar Film (Macedonia), etc
Release date
  • 1 September 1994 (1994-09-01) (Venice)
Running time
113 minutes

Before the Rain consists of three interlocking stories set both in Macedonia and London. The film addresses the ethnic and religious roots of violence and hatred in the Balkans as well as some international implications of the tragic regional conflict.


  • Katrin Cartlidge as Anne
  • Rade Šerbedžija as Aleksandar
  • Grégoire Colin as Kiril
  • Labina Mitevska as Zamira
  • Jay Villiers as Nick
  • Silvija Stojanovska as Hana
  • Phyllida Law as Anne's Mother
  • Josif Josifovski as Father Marko
  • Kiril Ristoski as Father Damjan
  • Petar Mirčevski as Zdrave
  • Ljupčo Bresliski as Mitre
  • Igor Madžirov as Stojan
  • Ilko Stefanovski as Bojan
  • Suzana Kirandžiska as Neda
  • Katerina Kocevska as Kate
  • Abdurahman Shalja as Zekir
  • Vladimir Jačev as Ali


Set against the background of political turbulence in Macedonia[1] and contemporary London, three love stories intertwine to create a powerful portrait of modern Europe in Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain.

When a mysterious incident in the fabled Macedonian mountains blows out of proportion, it threatens to start a civil war, and brings together a young monk who has taken a vow of silence, a London picture editor, and a disillusioned war photographer in this tragic tale of fated lovers. Told in three parts that connect in an illusionistic circular narrative, and linked by characters and events, Before The Rain explores the uncompromising nature of war as it ravages the lives of the unsuspecting, and forces the innocent to take sides.

In the first episode, Words, we meet Kiril, a young monk who has taken a vow of silence, who stands up for Zamira, a young Albanian girl who is accused of murder and is on the run from a mob. For her sake, Kiril leaves the monastery and the two of them make their way through the Macedonian landscape, but their romance is heading towards a sudden and brutal end.

Faces is set in bustling and trendy London. Anne, a picture editor, is torn between the love of her husband Nick and the attraction she feels for Aleksandar, a disillusioned war photographer. She is pulled into a series of tragic events, culminating in tragic events in a chic restaurant.

The third and final story, Pictures, brings the two previous stories together. It focuses on Aleksandar's return to Macedonia to settle. He learns that the war has divided his home village and that his Albanian neighbours are now seen as enemies. Hana, an Albanian woman he was, and apparently still is, in love with, asks him to take care of her daughter Zamira. While Aleksandar sets out to find the girl, a storm is building on the horizon, and the film returns us to its beginning.

Story notes

Upon watching the film, the viewer sees that the sequence of sections could have been any of three (Words, Faces, Pictures; Faces, Pictures, Words; or Pictures, Words, Faces). An intended inconsistency becomes apparent. The end of Words shows Zamira gunned down and killed by her family when she tries to escape them. Still photos of the scene are shown in Faces. Suddenly the reappearance of Zamira's photo and Kiril's voice (in a telephone call) in Pictures, coupled with the ending, which returns to the beginning, could temporarily hoodwink the viewer that this is the first part of the film. But a close observation of the man lying dead near the beginning of Words shows he is Aleksandar Kirkov, while Zamira is hiding in Kirill's after having killed one of the Macedonians.[2] Faces, set in London, has a living Aleksandar Kirkov, whose close friend Anne is developing black-and-white pictures of a dead Zamira. The motto of the film is, "The Circle is not Round." The message is written as graffiti on a wall shown in Pictures and is repeated in the other two parts by Father Marko. The director suggests that in life, people and places may change, but overshadowing scenarios (such as conflicts) go backward and forward in a cycle.


The creation of the film served partly as a homecoming for Manchevski, who had lived in New York City since the 1980s.[3] That said, the film was initially not set in Macedonia. Manchevski had originally hoped to sidestep political specifics by setting the film in an anonymous country.[4]

The film's non-linear three-act structure was inspired by the Aleksander Petrović film Three (1965 film).[3] The film also contains allusions to Sergei Eisenstein, Andrei Tarkovsky, and others. For example, the scene where Aleksandar whistles Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head while riding his bicycle is a conspicuous nod to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, directed by George Roy Hill.[5]

Reception and box office

The film was distributed in more than 50 countries. It was a hit in the cinemas in Italy, Sweden (where it stayed in the theaters for 54 weeks), Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, FR Yugoslavia, etc. In the US theaters it grossed $763,847, a good box office performance for a subtitled (Macedonian) film with no stars. It has been praised by critics internationally, earning a 91% "Fresh" rating based on 34 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The film critic Roger Ebert [6] described Before the Rain as an "extraordinary film. Work like this is what keeps me going, month after month and film after film ... This is a reminder of the nobility that film can attain."[7]

The film was nominated for an Academy Award.

The film also won the Golden Lion at the 51st Venice International Film Festival, alongside Vive L'Amour by Tsai Ming-liang.

It was also nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics.

It won 30 other awards, including Independent Spirit, Silver Condor, David di Donatello, Golden Bug, etc. The New York Times included it in its book "The Best 1,000 Films Ever Made", and it has been part of the curricula at numerous universities and in the Italian and Turkish high schools. An interdisciplinary academic conference in Florence was dedicated to the film, and it has been the subject of numerous essays and books.

Although the film was popular with many critics, some including Slavoj Žižek criticized it for reducing geopolitical conflicts to stereotyped parables optimized for western consumption.[4]

Awards and nominations

  • Academy Award Nomination 1995: Best Foreign-Language Film
  • Venice Film Festival 1994: Golden Lion for Best Film
  • Venice 1994: FIPRESCI Prize (International Critics Prize)
  • Venice 1994: The UNICEF Prize 1994
  • Venice 1994: Premio Cinemavenire (Young Viewers' Prize)
  • Venice 1994: Audience Prize
  • Venice 1994: Rolling Venice Award from the City of Venice
  • Venice 1994: Leoncino d'oro, awarded by the Italian students
  • Venice 1994: International Catholic Organization for the Cinema
  • Venice 1994: Kodak Award for Best First Feature
  • Venice 1994: Francesco Pasineti Syndicate Award for Best Actor to Rade Serbedzija
  • Toronto Festival 1994: runner-up in audience vote
  • São Paulo Festival 1994: Audience Award for Best Film
  • Puerto Rico Festival 1994: Jury Award for Best Film
  • Puerto Rico Festival 1994: Audience Award for Best Film
  • Puerto Rico Festival 1994: Best Director
  • Puerto Rico Festival 1994: Best First Film
  • Stockholm Festival 1994: Best Debut Film
  • Mons Festival, Belgium, 1995: Charlot d'or
  • St Petersburg Festival of Festivals 1995: Grand Prix
  • Burgos Festival, Spain, 1995: winner of the single Festival Prize
  • Gorizia Festival of Screenplay, Italy, 1995: Best Screenplay
  • Film Forum, Bratislava, Slovakia, 1995: Best Film
  • Panteleria, Italy, 1995: UNESCO Prize
  • Warsaw Film Fest, 1995: Audience Award
  • Austria, 1995: Catholic Film Commission Prize
  • David di Donatello Special Award to a non-Italian film, Italy, 1995
  • Swedish Film Institute, 1995: Golden Bug for Best Foreign Film
  • Film Critics Association of Turkey 1995: Best Foreign Film
  • Mediterranean Prize for Peace and Tolerance
  • Silver Condor for Best Foreign Film, 1996, Argentina
  • Independent Spirit Award 1995: Best Foreign-Language Film
  • List of Best 1,000 Films Ever Made: The New York Times[8]

Home video releases

  • 2008 The Criterion Collection, Region 1 DVD (Spine #436), June 24, 2008 — Includes audio commentary by Milcho Manchevski and film scholar Annette Insdorf, an interview with Rade Serbedzija, a short 1993 documentary about the making of the film, and an essay by film scholar Ian Christie.[9]
  • It has also been released in Italy, Brazil, UK, France, Turkey, Macedonia, Japan, Argentina, and Mexico.


The music for the film was written and performed by Anastasia. It was released on a CD in 1994 by PolyGram Records, and sold thousands of copies worldwide.

The song Sanjam by Indexi is also briefly featured.

See also


  1. "Before the Rain: A Stunning Tale of Macedonia" (PDF).
  2. "Balkan Homecoming".
  3. Manchevski, Milcho; Horton, Andrew (1995). "Cinema Across the Oceans: An Interview with Milcho Manchevski". Cinéaste. 21 (3): 45. JSTOR 41687391.
  4. Manchevski, Milcho; Brown, Keith (2008). "An Interview with Milcho Manchevski". World Literature Today. 82 (1): 12–15. JSTOR 40159590.
  5. Horton, Andrew (1995). "Review of Before the Rain". Cinéaste. 21 (3): 44–46. JSTOR 41687390.
  6. "Roger Ebert's Video Companion" (PDF).
  7. Before the Rain review by Roger Ebert (March 10, 1995)
  8. "List of Best 1,000 Films Ever Made" (PDF).
  9. "Before the Rain". Retrieved 22 March 2017.
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