Writer-director Anocha Suwichakornpong has described the critically acclaimed art-house film as an “attempt to deal with the impossibility of making a historical film in a place where there is no history.”
Thailand has selected Anocha Suwichakornpong’s ephemeral art-house film By the Time It Gets Dark as its official candidate for the best foreign-language category at the 90th Academy Awards.
Anocha was a producer on Thailand’s 2015 Oscar contender, the coming-of-age gay drama, How to Win at Checkers Every Time. By the Time It Gets Dark is her second feature as director, writer and producer, following her 2009 debut Mundane History.
The film takes a historical massacre perpetrated by the Thai government as its starting point, before launching into a meditation on memory and the nature of filmmaking itself. Anocha has described the work as both an “ode to the memory-recording and reconstructing machine that is cinema” and “my attempt to deal with the impossibility of making a historical film in a place where there is no history.”
The film premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in 2016, and later won the best picture, best director and best editing honors at the Thailand National Film Association Awards, the Southeast Asian nation’s local version of the Oscars.
By the Time It Gets Dark has earned mostly positive reviews from international critics, with THR‘s reviewer calling it a “demanding but ultimately rewarding piece.”