Before the Rain (1994 film)

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Before the Rain
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMilcho Manchevski
Written byMilcho Manchevski
Produced byMarc Baschet
StarringKatrin Cartlidge
Rade Serbedzija
Gregoire Colin
CinematographyManuel Teran
Edited byNicolas Gaster
Music byAnastasia
Distributed byVardar Film
Release date
  • 1 September 1994 (1994-09-01) (Venice)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryNorth Macedonia
Before the Rain
Before the rain - International Trailer
The Making of Before the Rain

Before the Rain (Macedonian: Пред дождот, Pred doždot) is a 1994 film written and directed by Milcho Manchevski. The film stars Katrin Cartlidge, Rade Šerbedžija, Grégoire Colin and Labina Mitevska. It features an original score by the Macedonian band Anastasia. Before the Rain consists of three interlocking stories set both in Macedonia (now North Macedonia) and London.

Before the Rain received positive reviews from film critics who praised the message it sends to viewers in light of the events during the time of its release. It was included in the List of Best 1,000 Films Ever Made compiled by The New York Times. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It was also nominated in the category for Best Foreign Language Film at the 67th Academy Awards in 1995, marking North Macedonia's first nomination in the award show.


Set against the background of political turbulence in Macedonia 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 silent young monk, a London picture editor, and a disillusioned war photographer in this tragic tale of fated 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.

Story notes[edit]

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.[1] 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.[citation needed]


  • 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


One of the main points of focus in the film is the ethnic clash that existed between Orthodox Macedonians and the Albanian Muslim minority in the early 1990s. It offers a view on how sociocultural norms and mechanisms can give rise to nationalism that grows into phobia of the foreign. Additionally, through the character of Aleksandar, the film offers a view of the "cultural shock" and foreignness he experiences upon reintegrating and returning to his home country after being away.[2]


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 Aleksander Petrović's film Three (1965) .[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]

Release and box office[edit]

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.

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 36 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "This haunting anti-war film offers insight into the reasons for the long history of ethnic wars within the Balkan states."[6] Film critic Roger Ebert described Before the Rain as one of the best films of the year and dubbed it "extraordinary". He further praised Manchevski's "clear, ironic, elliptic style" and called it "an art film about war, in which passions replace ideas".[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

At the 67th Academy Awards that took place in 1995, the film was nominated in the category for Best Foreign Language Film, marking the Republic of Macedonia's first nomination ever in the award show.[8] However, it lost to the film Burnt by the Sun by Nikita Mikhalkov.[9] The film also won the Golden Lion at the 51st Venice International Film Festival, alongside Vive L'Amour by Tsai Ming-liang.[10] It was also nominated for the Grand Prix in 1996 by the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics.[11] In addition to the aforementioned awards, the film also won 30 other awards.

Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film Before the Rain Nominated [8]
Argentine Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Film Before the Rain Won [12]
David di Donatello Awards Special Award to a Non-Italian Film Before the Rain Won [13]
Independent Spirit Awards Best Foreign Film Before the Rain Won [14]
Guldbagge Awards Best Foreign Film Before the Rain Won [15]
Nastro d'Argento Best Foreign Film Before the Rain Nominated [citation needed]
Grand Prix 1996 Grand Prix Before the Rain Nominated [11][16]
  • 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
  • Film Critics Association of Turkey 1995: Best Foreign Film
  • Mediterranean Prize for Peace and Tolerance


The New York Times writers Vincent Canby and Janer Maslin included Before the Rain in their book The New York Times Guide to the Best 1000 Movies Ever Made published in 1999.[17] The film 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. Katarzyna Marciniak, a scholar from Ohio University argued in her essay that the film, in addition to being a cautionary tale for people from the Former Yugoslav Republic, it also served as a message to Westerners and American citizens "to recognize the problematic 'doubleness' embedded in the concept of national identity".[2]

Home video releases[edit]

  • 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.[18]
  • It has also been released in Italy, Brazil, UK, France, Turkey, North 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[edit]


  1. ^ "Balkan Homecoming". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
  2. ^ a b Marciniak, Katarzyna (2003). "Transnational Anatomies of Exile and Abject". Cinema Journal. University of Texas Press (42): 63–84. doi:10.1353/cj.2003.0025.
  3. ^ a b 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. ^ "Before the Rain (Pred dozdot) (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (10 March 1995). "Before the Rain movie review & film summary (1995) by Roger Ebert (March 10, 1995)". Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  8. ^ a b Eller, Claudia; King, Susan (15 February 1995). "THE 67TH ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS : Bubba Gump Oscar Co. : Movie Gets Nod in 13 Categories : Awards: 'Forrest' nominations include best picture, director and actor, giving Hanks two in as many years. Independents score big, especially Miramax with 22". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  9. ^ "The 67th Academy Awards (1995) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  10. ^ "Golden Lion Award At Venice Film Festival". Reuters via The New York Times. 13 September 1994. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  11. ^ a b Honorez, Luc (8 January 1996). "Un film qui colle à notre époque, l'UCC couronne "Little Odessa"". Le Soir (in French). p. 8. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  12. ^ ""Sol de Otoño": una película que vuela muy alto" [Autumn Sun: a movie that flies very high]. La Nación (in Spanish). 4 June 1997. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Accademia del Cinema Italiano - Premi David di Donatello" (in Italian). Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Three cheers for the mighty Quinn". The Irish Times. 5 April 1996. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  15. ^ ""Пред дождот" меѓу 500 најреволуционерни филмови во историјата на кинематографијата".
  16. ^ "Les finalistes du prix UCC". Le Soir (in French). December 21, 1995. p. 11. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  17. ^ Canby, Vincent; Maslin, Janet (1999). The New York Times Guide to the Best 1000 Movies Ever Made. ISBN 0812930010.
  18. ^ "Before the Rain". Retrieved 22 March 2017.

External links[edit]