‘Amigo’: Friendly fire, family fable
As actor Joel Torre puts it, US filmmaker John Sayles knows more about Philippine history, specifically the chapter on the Philippine-American war at the turn of the century, than most Filipinos.
This theory was put to a test when Sayles presented his period film, “Amigo,” to students and teachers at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last year. An audience member questioned the depiction of the massacre of Chinese conscripted laborers. Quick on the draw, Sayles cited historical records that support the film’s authenticity.
In a recent e-mail interview, Sayles told the Inquirer that the Phil-Am war was a turning point in both nations’ histories. It proved crucial to “how America got to be America and how the Philippines got to be the Philippines. It’s important to know the family history.”
Bridge the gap
In his interactions with Filipino audiences at the CCP in Manila and in Davao City (for Cinema Rehiyon in February), Sayles realized that many Filipinos were unfamiliar with that period.
“Despite the work of historians and educators, we get ideas of history from popular culture,” he said, “and the period has not been addressed sufficiently.” Sayles hopes to bridge the gap with “Amigo” in theaters this week, with the help of distributor Origin8.