SXSW Interview: ‘A PRAYER BEFORE DAWN’ director and star strike fear in grisly prison-boxing film


Preston Barta // Features Editor


Rated R, 116 minutes.
Director: Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire
Cast: Joe ColeVithaya Pansringarm and Panya Yimmumphai

One of the many films A24 had at the South by Southwest Film Festival last week was the bio-drama A PRAYER BEFORE DAWN. Directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire (JOHNNY MAD DOG) and starring Joe Cole (GREEN ROOM), the film takes us inside the monstrous world of Billy Moore, an English boxer who was incarcerated in one of Thailand’s most notorious prisons. To win his freedom, he must survive the everyday hell of its ruthless prisoners and fight in Muay Thai tournaments.

We sat down with Sauvaire and Cole in Austin, TX, to discuss the animalistic nature of the film, the brutality of Moore’s story and the challenges of creating such a visceral experience.

Our interview:

A24 will release A PRAYER BEFORE DAWN later this year.

Official Trailer:

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.