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Three women deal with the issues of tradition, adoption and control over their bodies. They have not set out to change the world but their struggle to become mothers makes them unlikely heroines. Willow presents three stories set in Macedonia - one medieval, two contemporary - exploring themes of love, trust and motherhood.
Milcho Manchevski's Oscar-nominated film Before the Rain won the Golden Lion in Venice, received a David di Donatello Award, an Independent Spirit Award and an astonishing thirty additional prizes. Milcho's work also includes the award-winning features Dust, Shadows, Mothers, Bikini Moon and an episode of HBO's The Wire.
Film Review: Milcho Manchevski’s sixth feature Willow is a multi-layered fictional exploration of fertility and infertility in Macedonia. Manchevski takes the viewer on a journey from the seventeenth century days of curses, counter-magic and mystical cures to IVF, adoption and abortion. Each of its three linked stories involves a different couple who, unable to conceive, go to desperate lengths to have a child - with unique, tragic and unintended consequences in each case. Settings, cast, cinematography and especially sound design cohere into a compelling portrait of a land apart, where superstition and terrible poverty sit cheek-by-jowl with kindness, hope and joie de vivre, and life itself sometimes appears to be improvised. A single slice of watermelon serves as a birthday cake; a paperback book becomes a rain hat; a curved stone, a pillow; a chance meeting at a road traffic accident, a five-year marriage between taxi driver Branko (Nenad Nacev) and cashier Rodna (Natalija Teodosieva), both of whom are brilliant in their roles. At times, the film even seems to express a phobia of materialism: each couple’s tragedy is prefigured closely by their new-found desire to possess. Haunting and at times heartrending, Willow is exactly the kind of filmic poetry we can expect from Golden Lion winner and Academy Award nominee Milcho Manchevski. Dan MacCannell