A Prayer Before Dawn
Descent into the thai penal system
Released Out Now
Director Jean- Stéphane Sauvaire Distributor Altitude Films
Prayer Before Dawn tells the real- life story of Billy
Moore, a muay thai boxer who was arrested in Thailand on charges of handling stolen goods and firearms, and sentenced to three years in Chiang Mia prison.
Here, he is alienated both culturally and linguistically, in overcrowded conditions where rape, suicide and murder are commonplace. After degradation and despair, he grows determined not to go down without a fight, finding new purpose in the prison’s boxing team.
All this has been adapted from Moore’s 2012 memoir A Prayer Before Dawn: A Nightmare In Thailand , with Moore himself serving as a consultant for Jonathan Hirschbein and Nick Saltrese’s screenplay. Authenticity of a different kind comes from the casting of non- professional Thai actors ( apart from Only God Forgives’ Vithaya Pansringarm as the warden), genuine ex- prisoners and boxing champions whose own experiences informed the script. And the filmmakers were given permission to shoot in one of Thailand’s oldest prisons, bringing a lived- in atmosphere to everything on screen.
Director Jean- Stéphane Sauvaire proved his credentials as a master of confronting realism with his debut feature, Johnny Mad Dog ( 2008), which tracked a boy’s brutal initiation into a unit of child soldiers. Here, cinematographer David Ungaro’s camera practically hugs Moore in his descent into the penal system: from his panicky arrest and fear in a cell of tattooed ‘ samurais’, to his tender relationship with ‘ ladyboy’ Fame ( Pornchanok Mabklang), and boxing training.
Joe Cole gives a highly committed physical performance as Moore, whose survivalist progress is written on the body in bruises, scars and tattoos. This makes for a knockout film.