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  1. #1
    Utopian Expat Chittychangchang's Avatar
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    Cannes Hidden Gem: Joe Cole Survives a Thai Prison in 'A Prayer Before Dawn'



    Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
    'A Prayer Before Dawn'


    French director Jean-Stephane Sauvaire traveled to Thailand to tell the real-life story of a British convict turned Muay Thai champion who honed his skills behind bars.
    When French director Jean-Stephane Sauvaire met Joe Cole, he knew he'd found the right man to star in his drama A Prayer Before Dawn, based on the true story of Billy Moore, who spent two years in a Thai prison, where he became a Muay Thai boxing champion in order to survive.

    "He had the violence I needed for playing this guy, but he also has the kind of sensibility which was important for this character," says Sauvaire of British actor Cole, who has managed to stand out in impressive ensembles like the BBC period drama Peaky Blinders and Jeremy Sulnier’s horror-thriller Green Room. "Billy has two sides — the violent and dark side and also the vulnerable."

    A Prayer Before Dawn, debuting May 19 in the Midnight section in Cannes (and to be released by A24 in the U.S.), is based on Moore's book about his time in one of Thailand's most brutal prisons, Klong Prem, aka the notorious "Bangkok Hilton."

    Cole met with Moore before taking on the role, spending time with him in Moore's hometown of Liverpool and meeting his family. "He's a fascinating guy," says Cole. "He's an addict. He's clean now, but, as they say, once an addict, always an addict. He's a great guy. He's a lot more complex than you might think on the surface."

    Cole trained for several months to learn Muay Thai techniques, working with champions of the sport, some of whom had themselves learned to box in prison. "They put me in these grassroots-style training camps that didn't have the luxuries of, say, an Equinox. It was a little more rough and ready," says Cole, who stuck to a diet of mostly Thai food and a lot of protein.

    Other than Cole and Thai actor Vithaya Pansringarm (recently seen in Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives), the cast is made up of non-actors. Ahead of shooting, Sauvaire spent one year in Thailand to cast the project, hiring gang members, former prisoners (including several transsexual prostitutes, who are often incarcerated) and boxers. He directed them via a translator.

    "It was frustrating sometimes but ... it was the reality of what Billy went through,” says Sauvaire, whose 2008 film Johnny Mad Dog, about child soldiers in Africa, won Cannes' Un Certain Regard of Hope award. "Nobody was talking English to him. That's why the experience was so strong for Billy. They had to speak with their bodies, find a way to communicate."

    Cole says it was a "cathartic experience" for many of the former prisoners to once again be behind bars, but this time for a film. "Jean-Stepane created a world where they guys were allowed to express some of their negative aspects of their lives but in a positive way," he says. "For me, it felt like the relationships in the film were more real, everything had a little more authenticity to it."

    Moore was scheduled to fly to Thailand (the project was filmed in an abandoned prison) for the shoot, but when he arrived at the airport, he found out that he was banned from the country because of his prison sentence. He went to the Philippines for the shoot's final days and has a cameo. Sauvaire has shown Moore dailies from the shoot, but the first time he'll see the final product will be in Cannes.

    "Billy knows how hard I worked on it. He knows how hard Jean-Stephane worked on it," says Cole. "I think Billy will be very happy."

    Adds Cole with a laugh: "But if he doesn't like it, then we'll have to get in the ring, won't we?"
    'A Prayer Before Dawn': Joe Cole Survives a Thai Prison | Cannes 2017 Hidden Gem | Hollywood Reporter

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Wonder what lead him to Thailand and how he landed in prison?

  3. #3
    Utopian Expat Chittychangchang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    Wonder what lead him to Thailand and how he landed in prison?
    Liverpool criminal turned author has his book about the 'Bangkok Hilton' turned into a film starring Joe Cole from Peaky Blinders
    Billy Moore was addicted to drugs and spent 15 years in different prisons, he has now documented his time in Thailand into a book.



    He wrote the book because he couldn’t believe what he witnessed, calling it ‘the most inhuman and barbaric experience.’

    On his first night, Billy slept on the floor with 70 other inmates next to a dead body.

    He witnessed murders, stabbings, rape and violence from prison officers.

    “I was subjected to violence and threats. I couldn’t conform, I couldn’t understand the language.”

    His book begins with a chilling scene of an inmate being stabbed:

    “A young Thai, no older than twenty-five, ran past me, his face showing pure terror. He slowed and turned to look at his assailant, who then passed me swinging his metal chair, striking the victim’s head. He lost balance, slipped, and hit the concrete with a loud thud. Another man appeared with a nine-inch knife, and stood over the young man’s body.

    “A crowd gathered; even trusties stood and watched as the older man repeatedly plunged the knife into the young Thai’s flesh. It wasn’t done in frenzy; it was slow, cold, and calculated.”

    “Still no one helped or attempted to intervene. They all just stared, while a few shouted teng kao and kaa man.

    “I knew enough Thai to understand that the crowd was shouting “stab him” and “kill it”. The knifeman kept thrusting the blade into the young man’s body, each time sinking it in up to the handle. The knife went into his neck, lower back, chest, legs, and stomach; so many times I lost count.

    “I stood only a few feet away, watching in fascination and feeling guilty. Finally the victim lay still and quiet, in a pool of his own blood. It was horrible. I felt bad for not helping. But what could I do? This was a Thai problem. And I was a foreigner, one of many in Klong Prem prison . . .”

    Communication was an issue for Billy, when he arrived in prison he had just been involved in a motorcycle accident and was given the wrong medicine.

    “The bike had split my stomach, I had a hernia and had infections. They took me from Chiangmai prison to Bangkok which was 15 hours, with a catheter sticking out of my stomach.

    “I was in a cage with 30 kilo shackles welded on. No rest, no food and no medicine.

    “60 people were with me, defecating in bin bags on the journey, and the smells were assaulting my nostrils.

    “I had 39 staples in my stomach, and was taken straight from the operating theatre into that van.”

    A U.S. State Department study found that every year spent in a Thai prison is equivalent (in damage done to body and mind) to five years in a standard U.S. prison.

    “Thai prison, like all prisons, reveals the dark side of a person’s soul. It is how people behave when there are no constraints and outside limits are nonexistent. All the fury of the Thai people against the West is directed fully at Western prisoners; in the provincial prisons, at least, where little or no oversight exists.

    “Heroin addiction is rampant, madness is a regular side-effect, and no one emerges from the experience unscathed. On reflection I see a strength of character not of my own but one merely of human survival against all odds.

    “Thai prison is a surreal place. Like Thai society itself, it’s a strange mixture of casual brutality and indifference to human suffering.”

    After three years, Billy was given a treaty transfer and served eight additional months in the UK.

    Liverpool criminal turned author has his book about the 'Bangkok Hilton' turned into a film starring Joe Cole from Peaky Blinders - Liverpool Echo

  4. #4
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    ^ Still, it really doesn't say why he came here or what he did to be imprisoned.

    Guess I'll have to read the book or see the movie.

  5. #5
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    ^Taught English in LOS. Got involved with underground fights and yaba, got nailed with a stolen phone, got three years.

  6. #6
    Custom Title Changer
    CSFFan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chittychangchang
    “I was in a cage with 30 kilo shackles welded on.
    Horseshit, they're only about 10 kilos...

  7. #7
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    ^
    Been doing your research topper?




  8. #8
    Thailand Expat
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    If the movie becomes a success then expect more of the same.

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