By the Time It Gets Dark
Directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong
Thailand National Film Association Awards (2017), Best Picture & Best Director
Anocha Suwichakornpong in attendance!
Political history, social memory and the spectre of contemporary life permeate the highly anticipated second feature from award-winning Thai director Anocha Suwichakornpong. Exemplifying Suwichakornpong’s evolving storytelling style with exquisite visuals, BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK takes narrative passageways — reenactments, dreams or otherwise — to arrive at the interstices between reality, imagination and truth. At times surreal and inscrutable, the film’s delicate layers respond to and reflect upon the possibilities and limitations of cinema.
The film’s prologue, a series of vignettes, offers multiple avenues towards articulating a painful national trauma, the Thammasat University massacre of 1976, where student protesters were killed by government-sanctioned forces. Viewers soon meet a pair of characters who are topically related to the prologue: Ann, a filmmaker who is attempting to make a film about the event, and Taew, a writer who experienced the event first-hand when she was a young woman. In order to confront the impossibility of trauma — both its representation and articulation — the film (and by proxy, our protagonist) segues into a series of mundane scenes in which characters sometimes live non-singular existences and identities. These guises — in particular, an unnamed woman — move in and out of scenes interspersed with images from another time, from other films, or another “present”; conversations unfold, but viewers discover at another moment that people may be reciting lines from a script.
By using the tools of film language, Suwichakornpong presents scenarios which blur fiction with reality, evoking a dreamlike state in which characters are deeply and convincingly haunted by the simulacra of experience. In its delicate, patient beauty, BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK portrays the effects of national trauma upon those who have experienced it, but also upon others who may or may not have yet remembered.
— Chanel Kong
Anocha Suwichakornpong is a film director and producer from Thailand. Her first feature, MUNDANE HISTORY won the Tiger Award at Rotterdam. Her second feature, BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK, won the Prince Claus Fund from CineMart, and received financial support from the Ministry of Culture (Thailand), as well as support from the Hubert Bals Fund and Doha Film Institute.
Executive Producers: Chayamporn Taeratanachai, Edward Gunawan, Pithai Smithsuth
Producers: Guillaume Morel, Maenum Chagasik
Director: Anocha Suwichakornpong
Screenplay: Anocha Suwichakornpong
Cinematographer: Ming Kai Leung
Production Designers: Parinda Moongmaiphol, Vikrom Janpanus
Sound Mixer: Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr
Editors: Lee Chatametikool, Machima Ungsriwong