Macedonian filmmaker and writer Milcho Manchevski wonderfully relates the painful and tragic past of his country through his books and acclaimed films.
Born in Skopje, Macedonia, in 1959, Milcho Manchevski studied film and photography at Southern Illinois University and has published several books of fiction and two books of photographs. He has also written and directed the following feature films; Before The Rain (1994), Dust (2001), Shadows (2007) and Mothers (2010) as well as one episode of HBO’s famous Baltimore-based series The Wire. He has lived in New York since 1985.
His first feature film Pred Dozdot (Before the Rain) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film, won the Golden Lion in Venice in 1994 and other awards in Austria, Belgium, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Poland and Russia. It is an extraordinary film comprised of three distinct episodes causally linked by the film’s narration. The first episode ‘Words’, takes place in the director’s homeland, at a monastery where a young monk finds a girl hidden in his chamber. The second, ‘Faces’, is set in London where a photo editor has to choose between a passionate love affair with a photographer and reconciling with the husband she has separated from. The third follows the photographer as he returns to his native village near Skopje. Throughout each of these stories the tragedy of the Macedonian civil war constantly interferes with the lives of the characters. None of them is exempt from the aftermath of the struggle in the former Yugoslav Republic where ethnic antipathy flares.
The stories communicate with imagery, music and structure – rather than characters’ words. It thus delivers its anti-war message in opaque and obscure ways. Additionally, the film evokes a mixture of feelings of supreme bitterness and joy. It is a painful story presented through a series of metaphors that produce ambiguous variations of meaning, and in doing so it challenges the audience’s perceptions. This is true of much of Manchevski’s works, which defy attempts at exact interpretation and instead suggest a multitude of allegorical meanings, compelling audiences to question what they have seen. Manchevski’s films have all won international awards and were screened at more than two hundred festivals and distributed in more than forty countries.