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Locarno: Luxbox Acquires Golden Leopard Contender ‘By the Time It Gets Dark’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Second feature by Anocha Suwichakornpong inspired in part by Thailand's 1976 student massacre

Paris-based sales company Luxbox has acquired world sales rights to “Dao Khanong” (“By the Time It Gets Dark”), the second feature by Thai director-writer-producer Anocha Suwichakornpong, who impressed with her 2009 debut “Mundane History.”

Written by Suwichakornpong, a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, “By the Time It Gets Dark” will world-premiere in Locarno’s main competitive section, its International Competition, where it will compete for Locarno’s top Golden Leopard prize.

The deal on “By the Time It Gets Dark” marks out Luxbox, a nearly new sales outfit launched last October by Hedi Zardi and Fiorella Moretti, as one of the most active companies acquiring titles in the run-up to Locarno. Earlier this month, Luxbox took world sales rights to Swiss Michael Koch’s debut feature “Marija.”

Inspired in part by the 1976 Thamassat University student massacre, perpetrated by government and right-wing paramilitary forces, “By the Time It Gets Dark” melds individual fiction characters and a broader sense of Thai history. In it, a film director attempts to make a film about the massacre, aided by her muse, a student activist in the 1970s. Other stories, which loosely connect, involve a waitress who is forever changing jobs, and an actor and an actress.

Mixing “reality and dreams” and “different layers of time and space,” Suwichakornpong questions the possibility of “making nowadays a historical film about an untold chapter in the history of her country,” Moretti and Zardi said in a statement, adding they were “impressed by the poetry of her ode to cinema.”

“By the Time It Gets Dark” is produced by, among others, Suwichakornpong and Soros Sukhum, one of the most prolific of indie Thai producers, whose credits include Aditya Assarat’s “Wonderful Town,” “Mundane History” and Kongdej Jaturanrasamee’s “Snap.” Electric Eel Films produces out of Thailand; Survivance co-produces out of France. The films drew financing from the Rotterdam Festival’s Hubert Bals Fund and the Doha Film Institute.

With established directors often holding down relationships with established sellers, it is natural for new sales agents to link with newer directors. This has already paid off for Luxbox as it drives into world cinema titles. “Hedi,” the debut of Tunisia’s Mohamed Ben Attia, won the 2016 Berlinale’s Best Actor (Majd Mastoura) and Best First Feature Award. “Mimosas,” the second feature from Spain’s Oliver Laxe, took Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prix.

Luxbox is also representing “Jeanette,” the new film from veteran Bruno Dumont, which will be ready for delivery in 2017.

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