Friendly fire: An interview with John Sayles
John Sayles’ film career started in the late 1970s when he co-wrote the screenplay and contributed the story idea for a low budget tongue-in-cheek horror film, Piranha. The film remains a favorite for movie lovers who like flesh-eating fish movies.
Since then, Sayles has spent time behind and in front of the camera as director and actor, and also completely away from it as a screenwriter.
“I’ve written about 90 screenplays,” Sayles estimated in a recent interview with Local iQ. “Some were made, some weren’t,” he said matter-of-factly.
The films he has written and personally directed have stayed on the margins, so to speak – often, if not always, being about subjects that deserve attention but don’t achieve it. Titles such as Matewan, which focused on the true story of a 1920 miner strike, or Eight Men Out, which covered the Chicago Black Sox scandal, were both Sayles subjects. More commonly in recent years, social issues have taken a front seat, though he has also written and directed lighter fables like The Secret of Roan Inish and mysteries like Lone Star.
In his newest film, Amigo, which screens at the KiMo on the opening night of this year’s Albuquerque Film Festival, Sayles brings to the forefront a little-known conflict, the Philippine-American War. That war ran for three years and effectively ended in 1902, but guerrilla tactics continued for another 10 years due to the U.S. annexation of the Philippines.