The circularity of violence seen in a story that circles on itself. The first film made in the newly independent Republic of Macedonia, Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain crosscuts the stories of an orthodox Christian monk, a British photo agent, and a native Macedonian war photographer to paint a portrait of simmering ethnic and religious hatred about to reach its boiling point. Made during the strife of the war-torn Balkan states in the nineties, this gripping triptych of love and violence is also a timeless evocation of the loss of pastoral innocence, and remains one of recent cinema’s most powerful laments on the futility of war. Awarded Golden Lion for Best Film at 1994 Venice Film Festival.
The Yugoslavian When Father Was Away on Business (Otac na Sluzbenoh Putu) takes place in the early 1950s. The title is a euphemism: because of the strained relationship between Yugoslavia and the USSR, various private citizens have disappeared in the middle of the night, accompanied by the police. A delightfully warm comedy, seen through the eyes of a six year old boy who thinks his father is away on business, when in actuality he’s been sent to the mines for having an affair. Nominated for the 1985 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
“Burnt by the Sun” depicts the story of a senior Red Army officer and his family during the Great Purge of the late 1930s in the Stalinist Soviet Union. Mikhalkov’s powerful portrait of viciousness during the Stalin era won the 1994 Oscar for Best Foreign Film. The film also received the Grand Prize at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival among many other honors.