Amigo, a movie about the nearly-forgotten Filipino-American War, is now showing in select theatres.
It is written and directed by celebrated filmmaker John Sayles, and starrs equally celebrated actors Joel Torre and Ronnie Lazaro.
Okay, quick deets about the movie: It is a historical drama.
It is set during the decline of the Spanish colonization, the entry of the Americans, and the Katipunan uprising.
It tells the story of friendship between Noypi Rafael and Kano Lieutenant Compton.
And it is shot entirely in Bohol.
Before sleep takes over—we hear you yawnin'—you must know that amidst all that historical brouhaha, Amigo simply tells the tale of people caught in between. READ: the common masa during that time.
FHM spoke to Joel Torre himself and here's what he's got to say about the film:
Can you explain to us what Amigo is all about?
It is about the Filipino-American war. A village is garrisoned and occupied by a troop of American soldiers while they were pursuing Aguinaldo, para di sila titirahin sa likod, kailangan nila bantayin itong village na ito.
But this barrio, mayroong mga rebolusyonaryo dun who are always in conflict with each other and who suffers most are the innocent lives. I play the kapitan del baryo. The guy who needs to balance everything, only unsuccessfully ha ha! It’s an anti-war film. It’s the same thing as with Iraq but this is more the first campaign of the Americans.
What are the challenges of doing a period piece such as this?
Well it’s one of the few films about the Fil-American war plus it took an American to write Filipino characters but the way he presented the Filipinos was really good. He did his research.
Sabi ko nga dati ang dami na natin ginawang pelikula about the war with the Spaniards, now this event will be given a chance to take light. It wasn’t merely overlooked but there was a deliberate attempt to not divulge, but to suppress it.
What about your movie Amigo makes it stand out from other movies you’ve done?
For one the subject matter. It’s different because you have an American telling a Filipino story. It’s a history lesson stripped from our books so people should see it. Its themes are still very applicable today.
How was it working with American director John Sayles for Amigo?
Delightful. he’s very thorough and very detailed and clear on what he wants. I’ve known John for quite some time. He’s also an actor’s director, sobrang bait and good-natured person. Hindi siya naliligaw or nagagalit. He’s very lax and very calm and he knows what he wants.
What are the differences between the style of an American director and a Filipino director?
There are definitely differences. Some terms are different, and creative-wise it doesn’t really matter but system-wise, it does. They work on an 8-hour schedule or 12-hour schedule. Hindi ka pagod kasi may 2-hour break, hindi ka din puyat. Culturally mas person-oriented ang Filipinos, sila very business oriented, walang personalan.
What do you have to say about the current state of Philippine cinema?
I think we are headed in the right direction. There is always room for growth. We have the talent, if only we had the economics to support all the films, as well as an audience to watch them. One thing is we need to improve our post-production technical skills. It’s an area we need to develop so we can be more competitive. Distributors not only look at the story, acting, and talent, they need a well-executed project. Post-production really means a lot.
Watch the trailer here: