UK, Germany, Italy, North Macedonia


At the turn of the last century in the American West, two brothers fall in love with the same woman. Lilith chooses the younger brother, Elijah. The embittered Luke travels alone to Europe. His demons drive him to Macedonia where he becomes a ruthless mercenary fighting amongst the vicious local gangs. However, the revolution takes on a personal face when pregnant Neda saves dying Luke.
100 years later, in New York City, a desperate robber, Edge, tries to part an elderly woman from her life savings. But Angela won't give up her hoard of ancient gold coins until he's listened to her story of two brothers who fell for the same woman a long time ago in the Wild West.

New York, 2000. Frail, elderly Angela overwhelms Edge after he breaks into her apartment in search of cash. He is desperate, heavily in debt to a pair of cops who will soon be returning for their pound of flesh. Angela is unimpressed by his predicament and breaks his nose. Then she tells him a story:
The American West, 1900. Two brothers, Luke and Elijah, have fallen for a fiery French prostitute, Lilith, the class act in a local brothel. Elijah, the scripture-quoting younger brother wins her hand, leaving the bitter Luke to find his fortune elsewhere. He heads for Europe, packing "The Gospel According to Luke", his custom-made pistol.
Intrigued by a newsreel in a Paris cinema, Luke travels to the Wild East where the fall of the Ottoman Empire offers a golden opportunity for outlaws and hired guns. In Macedonia, his sharpshooting skills make him the natural leader of a bloodthirsty gang. Together they go after the bounty on the head of the Teacher, the inspirational leader of the Macedonian Revolutionaries. But Luke is still pursued by his past and in particular, his brother, Elijah, who appears in this mountain tinderbox hell-bent on revenge.
Elijah shoots to kill but Luke survives his brother's bullet and escapes farther into the mountains. He is found and nursed back to health by Neda, a beautiful local girl who is carrying the child of Teacher, the man Luke was hunting for bounty. Before her baby is born, she watches as the Ottoman soldiers parade Teacher's severed head through the village streets. When Luke is offered gold to save Neda and the baby, he shows his true colours by taking the money and leaving her to the ruthless army.
Alone in a hospital bed in New York, Angela is fading. She looks forward to a visit from her eager young housebreaker. Edge brought her here after she collapsed in her apartment, terrified that she might die before revealing her secret. Angela knows that he's after her gold and she's willing to strike a bargain. Edge is her only hope of fulfilling her wish to be buried where she came from, far away in the mountains, but also her only company in her last days and — most importantly — the one to pick up and carry on her story. Under the tough surface, the two lonely people grow fond of each other, and Edge comes to Angela' s hospital bed even after he's found her gold.

In Macedonia, Luke flees with Neda's gold, when angry Elijah confronts him at a mountaintop spring and tells him that their beloved Lilith is long dead. Elijah blames Luke for her suicide. Wounded and destitute, Luke is about to die...
when Angela dies in the New York hospital. Edge is devastated, but decides to fulfill Angela's last wish, cremating her body and burying her where she was born.
In the cabin of an eastbound airplane, Edge tells Angela's story to an unbelieving girl in the next seat: Luke cannot die, he's a hero. Realising his moral ineptitude, Luke determines to do one good deed before he dies: he returns to the village to rescue Neda, the woman who saved his life, and her unborn baby. He makes a brave, if suicidal attempt to save her from the army. In the process, he inadvertently kills her, but manages to save her newborn baby, before he himself is killed in a monstrous battle. Neda's child is miraculously spared from slaughter and is found by Elijah. He decides to adopt her and take her to New York. He holds baby Angela, the same Angela who was telling the story in New York, in his arms and looks up into the sky...
In the cabin of an eastbound airplane, Edge finishes Angela's story to an unbelieving girl in the next seat, then pulls out a photo of himself with the cowboy brothers. The lines between reality and storytelling are beginning to blur.

Director's Statement

The motto of the film is where does your voice go when you are no more? What do we leave behind? Is it the story of our lives? Is it how others remember us? Is it the children we leave behind? Or material records such as movies and photographs? Is it only the ashes in the urn? Is it the dust?

The film is about the thirst for storytelling. The story of DUST is told in a fractured narrative, like a Cubist tale.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Milcho Manchevski

Cast: Joseph Fiennes (Elijah), David Wenham (Luke), Adrian Lester (Edge), Anne Brochet (Lilith), Nikolina Kujaca (Neda)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2001