The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and won the Golden Lion award at 51st Venice International Film Festival, alongside Vive L'Amour by Tsai Ming-liang.
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 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.
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. 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 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 performances 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 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."
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.
“Director Milcho Manchevski has made a debut so astonishingly assured in writing and technique, he is guaranteed a footnote in movie history even if he never makes another film. Before the Rain is stunning. It’s the sort of remarkable movie debut that reinstalls your faith in the medium’s viability as genuine art.”…… The Miami Herald (written and directed by Milcho Manchevski, with Katrin Cartlidge, Gregoire Colin, Rade Serbedzija… Golden Lion, Venice 1994, Academy-Award Nomination 1995)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
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
It has also been released in Italy, Brazil, UK, France, Turkey, Macedonia, Japan, Argentina, Mexico, etc.
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.