Before the Rain

Before the Rain is a 1994 Macedonian film set against the background of political turbulence in Macedonia and contemporary London. Within it, Milcho Manchevski weaves together three love stories to create a powerful portrait of modern Europe. In 1994, it was awarded a Golden Lion at the 51st Venice Film Festival.

When a mysterious incident in the fabled Macedonian mountains blows out of proportion, it threatens to start a civil war, and brings together a silent young monk, a London picture editor, and a disillusioned war photographer in this tragic tale of star-crossed lovers. Told in three parts, 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.

The film Before the Rain is more than an expected visual statement on the political landscapes in a Balkan country. It is a warning of a permanent war inside our inherited memories of hate. Paradoxically, the rain here signifies the war while the raindrops clean the blood from the face of the killed ones. Despite the loud warning of this film in 1994, seven years later the civil war in the Republic of Macedonia became reality. As all good art in the world, this film tries to excavate the beauty even among the foundations of the human violence. The poetic language of the film together with the visual and semiotic architecture of its power were some of the main reasons why I decide to share it with others. I will try to talk with the poetry of words and silence to the poetry of the picture and darkness. As the director Milcho Manchevski said: “This story is about how a war somewhere in the world might get started and how that can affect your life regardless of where you are… Before the Rain is not about sides in a war, it's about right and wrong, and love and understanding. And it's about how humans behave. But go on.”

Many considerMilcho Manchevski to be one of the most original and innovative artists of our time for his unique blend of experimentation, poetry, emotion and a demand for the active participation of the viewer in the construction of meaning. His acclaimed Before the Rain (1994) is considered one of the greatest debut feature films in the history of cinema and one of the most important films of the decade. The New York Times included it on its “Best 1,000 Films Ever Made“ list. Manchevski’s work–which also includes award-winning films Dust (2001), Shadows (2007), Mothers (2010), as well as award-winning short forms Thursday (2013), Macedonia Timeless (2009), Tennessee (1991) and 1.73 (1984)–stands out in world cinema for its unique way of playing with space, time and emotion.

Nikola Madzirovis one of the most powerful voices in contemporary European poetry. Born in a family of Balkan War refugees in Strumica in 1973, he grew up in the Soviet era in the former Republic of Yugoslavia ruled by Marshall Tito. When he was 18, the collapse of Yugoslavia prompted a shift in his sense of identity–as a writer reinventing himself in a country which felt new but was still nourished by deeply rooted historical traditions. The example and work of the great East European poets of the postwar period–Vasko Popa, Czesław Miłosz, Zbigniew Herbert–were liberating influences on his writing and thinking. The German weekly magazine Der Spiegel compared the quality of his poetry to Tomas Tranströmer’s. There is a clear line from their generation, and that of more recent figures like Adam Zagajewski from Poland, to Nikola Madzirov, but Madzirov’s voice is a new 21st century voice in European poetry and he is one of the most outstanding figures of the post-Soviet generation.