Oscar Nominee at opening night of AmigoNov 22nd, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: News
Academy award nominated screenwriter John Sayles (Lone Star, Passion Fish, Eight Men Out) was present for the Chalmette debut of his latest independent work “Amigo.”
An independent feature surrounding one village plight caused by the American Garrison occupying their village during the little known American-Philppine War, which took place in the early 1900’s. Then, our war with the Spanish took American troops to various locations, chiefly Cuba, but also Guam and the Philippines.
The film follows the leader of the occupied village (“Cabeza” or head) and several other characters on either side of the revolution taking place, as the Cabeza is forced everyday the fine line between traitor and revolutionary.
Sayles said the fact that this war effort is largely forgotten is part of the reason he wrote the work, first as the novel A Moment in the Sun and then as a screenplay for the movie.
“There are only about two other movies I know of on the subject,” Sayles said. “Which is rare for a war that we won.”
Sayles pulled triple-duty for the film, as its screenwriter, director and editor. The film was shot in the Philippines partly for historical accuracy, and part for the economy of the movie.
“If I went to the Philippines, [I figured] I could make a $5 million movie for a third of the price,” Sayles said.
One of the main themes Sayles said emerged naturally in the film was the current conflict in Afghanistan, and even parallels to Vietnam, as the war with the Philippines was a switch from America, the liberator, to an occupying force, meant to win hearts and minds.
“I did some research, and the idea of ‘Hearts and Minds’ goes all the way back to the Bible,” Sayles said. Which was difficult, Sayles said, to portray on screen, because the audience gets the entire story, yet the characters and not even sharing a similar language, let alone a culture.
In that sense, there are no clear winners in the film, rather Sayles said the script focused on a broad range of characters, who all carry a twinge of humanity in them.
“Generally in a war film, you got two sides but you know the guys on each side and hope none of them get killed,” Sayles said. “For the audience, I feel, it’s like two trains heading for each other.”
Story and photo by William Dilella