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

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.