The Edge of Daybreak

2021 / 114 minutes
Winner FIPRESCI Award, IFFR 2021.

The Edge of Daybreak examines the devastating psychological landscape of a dysfunctional family as it falls from grace in the shadow of wars.

Supports by Ministry of Culture (Thailand), Visions Sud Est Fund, Purin Foundation, SAC Gallery
185 Films: Cattleya Paosrijaroen, Soros Sukhum (producers) 
Taiki Sakpisit (writer and director)
Chananun Chotrungroj (cinematographer)
Rasiguet Sookkarn (production designer)
Harin Paesongthai and Lee Chatametikool (editors)
Yasuhiro Morinaga (music director)
Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr (sound designer)
Chaitawat Thrisansri (colorist)
Nattapol Rojjanarattanangkool (poster)

Manatsanun Phanlerdwongsakul
Sunida Ratanakorn
Chalad Na Songkhla

Executive Producer: Subhashok Angsuvarnsiri
World premiere at 50th International Film Festival Rotterdam (Tiger Competition) on February 1-7 / June 2-6, 2021

A family’s mental state reflects the troubled history of Thailand in Taiki Sakpisit’s doom-laden feature film debut. Sakpisit’s The Mental Traveller featured in IFFR’s 2019 Tiger Short Competition.

The oppression of the student uprisings in the 1970s and the 2006 military coup are the implicit historic anchors for an equal parts fluid and suffocating family chronicle marred by psychological trauma, violence and guilt complexes. On the eve of a shift in political power, a woman is taken to a safe house, sharing a final meal with her husband before he is smuggled abroad. 30 years earlier, Ploy was a young girl in a coma after nearly drowning. Her father, a soldier, has been missing for three years and her mother is recovering from a nervous breakdown. Together with her lover, her husband’s younger brother, she relives the traumas of their youth.

Impending doom and repression pervade monochrome shots of desolate, dilapidated locations with lanterns creating ghostly shadow theatre. The dark soundtrack, minimal cinematic action and slow tempo conjure up a hypnotic state. The characters seem imprisoned in emotional paralysis where past and present meld into a single, endless nightmare. A shadow crosses the sun: is it an omen or will it awaken everyone? (IFFR)

A jury of international film journalists from the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique award the FIPRESCI Award to their standout Tiger Competition title.
Jury: Veronika Zakonjsek, Jihane Bougrine, Salvatore Marfella, Ronald Rovers, Paula Ruiz

Winning film: The Edge of Daybreak by Taiki Sakpisit
Jury report: “For its mysterious atmosphere and rich imagery in depicting trauma and violence, for its capacity of dealing with 40 years of political turmoil through a powerful and hypnotic cinematic journey, and for its compromise with the past in order to confront the present and the next future, the FIPRESCI prize for IFFR 2021 goes to The Edge of Daybreak by Taiki Sakpisit.”
Honourable Mention: The International Festival of New Film / Split Film Festival
Best Director: 18th Kom Chad Luek Awards
Best Director: Asian Film Festival, Rome Italy
Bangkok Critics Assembly: Best Director, Best Cinematographer, Best Film Score, Young Filmmaker Award
Starpics Thai Film Critic Choices: Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Score

Festivals / Screenings:
IFFR 2021 Tiger Competitionn (Fipresci Award)
HKIFF 45 Firebird Awards Young Cinema Competition (World)
The International Festival of New Film / Split Film Festival (Honourable Mention)
Molodist International Film Festival, Kyiv, Ukraine
Melbourne International Film Festival
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma
Riga International Film Festival, Latvia
Taipei Film Festival
Shanghai International Film Festival
New Horizons International Film Festival
Bangkok Asean Film Festival
Torino Film Festival
Across Asia Film Festival
International Film Festival of Kerala
Asian Film Festival, Rome, Italy (Best Director award)
International Film Festival of Kerala (the Critics Week)
Thai Film Festival in Morocco
The Edge of Daybreak at the Rijksakademie, followed by a Q&A moderated by curator and writer Julian Ross
Singorama Film Festival, Songkha, Thailand
ART FILM FEST Kosice in Slovakia
Spain Moving Images Festival, Madrid

THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: International Cinephile Society
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: Land of Doom Without Sun
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: Aesthetic (de) evolution
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: Refractions of history
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: Thailand and an Endless Nightmare
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: The Passage to Nowhere
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: Lullaby for a dark mystery
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: View of the interior
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: The Disapproving Swede
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: CineD@ms Torino (Article by Davide Gravina Translated by Rebeca Tirgovetu)
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: คนมองหนัง: ‘พญาโศกพิโยคค่ำ’: มากกว่า ‘นิทานเปรียบเทียบ
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: พญาโศกพิโยคค่ำ: ฝันร้ายซ้ำซากของประวัติศาสตร์การเมืองที่หยุดนิ่ง
THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: MIDNIGHT CINEMA 08 : พญาโศกพิโยคค่ำ – ที่ริมขอบของรุ่งสาง

Light and Shadows As Living Entities
Dial M for Movie
Le Polyester: Entretien avec Taiki Sakpisit
The Disapproving Swede
Easternkicks “She’s fighting her way from death back to being alive”
Thai director Taiki Sakpisit opens up on his award winning debute feature
A Family Tormented by Thailand's Turmoil is Dazzling Critics Aboard But Still Unseen At Home
‘พญาโศกพิโยคค่ำ’ การบันทึกภาวะจิตใจอันแตกสลาย ของ ไทกิ ศักดิ์พิสิษฐ์

For each of the features in competition, IFFR asked a critic, writer, academic or programmer to write a short reflection in a personal capacity. The resulting series of ‘Appreciations’ aims to encourage viewers − and filmmakers − at a time when there is no physical festival. May Adadol Ingawanij shines a light on The Edge of Daybreak.

The crumbling old mansion by the river is a cursed place, according to its housekeeper. Its inhabitants spend their days enacting strange, silent rituals. Creatures – the cobras, the German Shepherd dog – stalk the grounds and occupy the dark interior corners keeping watch on the women. Pailin, the mistress of the house, has just returned from the sanatorium. Her daughter Ploy, a child who does not speak, had almost drowned in an incident of some sort. They are the seers and the sleepwalkers, these women bound to the house. The men in this spellbound world are military personnel with secrets to hide. They move as shadows in the nocturnal spaces shot in black and white.

Taiki Sakpisit’s debut feature film explores the unbearable weight of a country’s violent past and its legacy on a people’s psyche. With its gothic tableaux, its doubling figures of mother and daughter, and its crystalline form entwining past and present, The Edge of Daybreak is an unusual cinematic response to a question that has been growing in urgency among artists and filmmakers in Sakpisit’s homeland: What must art and cinema do to portray Thailand’s legacy of militarisation and impunity? The film is an oblique telling of the story of the decline of a military family, its petrification down the generations. With its portrayal of somnambulant states and its evocation of atrophied dreams and waking nightmares, The Edge of Daybreak asks: What traumas, what psychoses, are repeating themselves in the present? What are the later generations condemned to inherit, and what would begin to break the chain? Will Pailin awake from her mesmeric state? Will Ploy be condemned to inherit the psychoses of her parents and those of the previous generation?

Taiki’s feature film expands the thematic and stylistic concerns that the artist has been developing through a remarkable body of moving image works in the past decade or so. His short films and installations are rhythmically precise audio-visual assemblages registering mental breaking points and states of collective insanity, whose intensity matches the terror of the political dystopia of his homeland. Earlier works such as A Ripe Volcano (2011), The Age of Anxiety (2013), and The Mental Traveller (2019) transform male bodies into mediums and landscapes of intensity through extreme close-ups, aggressive cuts, strobe effects, and sublime use of musique concrète and noise. The gothic, experimental style of The Edge of Daybreak, and with it the shift of attentiveness to symbolic female figures, is a fascinating addition to and an extension of an already singular body of works.

May Adadol Ingawanij is a film theorist, historian, curator, and teacher, specialised in cinema from Southeast Asia.

> What was the starting point of THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK ?

I have been making experimental films for a decade and I often started out with the theme and concept. In The Edge of Daybreak, the theme of paralysis is presently important in the Thai political context; the physical paralysis as well as psychological and philosophical.

I want to create the universe where dark shadows cast the spells of emotional paralysis on one particular family in Thailand on two critical single days in 2006 and 1976. There’s a sinister omnipresence looming large over this family where the missing patriarch, a military man, has been missing for three years. The remaining members are confronted with the whirlpools of traumas and nightmares. It’s the frozen world of shattered dreams where the future and hope are obscured by dark desires.

> THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK is visually gorgeous. How did you approach your use of black and white in the movie ?

I was writing this film in black and white and I approached it, not stylistically but philosophically. The ghostly light, the talking shadow and the decaying texture have existential properties. They become the characters in the film. It’s like the mental landscape. I was attempting to capture the presence of the absence.

> Can you tell us more about your editing process and its role in THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK's narration ?

My editor HARIN PAESONGTHAI and I worked closely to sculpt the film around the notions of circular undercurrent violence, frozen time, impending doom and sleep paralysis.

> Who are your favorite directors and/or the directors that inspire you ?

While in pre-production for The Edge of Daybreak, these were the films that I revisited for inspiration.

Port of Shadows - Marcel Carné (1938)

I Walked with a Zombie - Jacques Tourneur (1943)

Window Water Baby Moving - Stan Brakhage (1958)

Gertrud - Carl Theodor Dreyer (1964)

Woman in the Dunes - Hiroshi Teshigahara (1964)

Kwaidan - Masaki Kobayashi (1965)

Le Cochon - Jean Eustache (1970)

The Third Part of the Night - Andrzej Żuławski (1971)

Take the 5:10 to Dreamland - Bruce Conner (1976)

El Sur - Victor Erice (1983)

Antonio Gaudi - Hiroshi Teshigahara (1984)

In Absentia - Brothers Quay (2000)

> What was the last time you had the feeling to watch something new, to discover a new talent ?

The last time that I felt exuberant was my recent research trip to the slaughterhouse in Northeast Thailand. It was like revisiting the scene in The Edge of Daybreak. The experience was surreal and dreamlike.