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Award-winning international film 'Before the Rain' to screen

RELEASED: Nov. 20, 2009

Aleksandar (Rade Serbedzija) returns to Macedonia in "Before the Rain."

EAU CLAIRE — "Before the Rain" (1994), a lyrical triptych of love and violence that is one of recent cinema's most powerful laments on the futility of war, will be presented Dec. 3-6 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. An Oscar nominee that won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, the film will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in Davies Theatre.

In his four-star review, film critic Roger Ebert praised the film as "a brilliant directorial debut for a young man named Milcho Manchevski, born in Macedonia, educated at Southern Illinois University and now a New Yorker who made award-winning MTV videos before returning home to make this 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."

Made during the strife of the war-torn Balkan states in the 1990s, the three-episode drama puts the conflict into context by examining its impact upon personal relationships.

  • Words — In a Macedonian hilltop monastery, a young monk (Gregoire Colin) is hiding an Albanian girl (Labina Mitevska) from armed Christian villagers. The soldiers claim that the girl has killed one of their own and invade the sacred building. The monk, observing a two-year vow of silence, does not betray her.
  • Faces — Anne (Katrin Cartlidge), a photo agent in London, tries to resolve a personal life complicated by an estranged husband and her passionate affair with Pulitzer Prize-winning Macedonian war photographer Aleksandar (Rade Serbedzija).
  • Pictures — Aleksandar returns to Macedonia after a 16-year absence. The initially warm reception in his home village soon changes to outright hostility when he tries to find an old friend from the Albanian side.

"Filmmaker Manchevski fractures most of the linear connections between each story, in favor of a more emotional, thematic series of connections," reported The Washington Post. "Characters reappear in other stories, as if nothing had happened to them in previous episodes. Manchevski seems to be playing with the fates ... Noticeably more sophisticated and narratively open-ended than Hollywood's formula fare, 'Before the Rain,' which is about the big, the small and the unexplainable, feels global, all-encompassing and vital."

In English, Macedonian and Albanian with English subtitles, the 113-minute film is rated R.

Admission to the International Film Society presentation is free at the door with a Blugold Card or IFS membership. Memberships are available at the Service Center (715-836-3727) in Davies Center's east lobby.

More information about the campus film series is available online and at the Activities and Programs office, Davies Center 133.

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JS/DW

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