By Chris Nashawaty
Updated September 15, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Macedonian writer-director Milcho Manchevski’s heart-ripping debut is all the proof you’ll need that a movie can pack more tragic power than a month’s worth of newspaper headlines about the former Yugoslavia. Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Before the Rain traces three seemingly unrelated stories — a young monk harbors an Albanian girl wanted for murder, a beautiful London photo editor grapples with the decision to leave her husband for a brooding war photographer, and the photographer returns to his once-peaceful Macedonian village, which the war has turned into a spiritually ugly place. As each story cleverly overlaps, the film’s rich characters manage to make a faceless civil war painfully personal. A