Two days after the Fourth of July (traditionally known in the Philippines as Filipino-American Friendship Day), the nation will witness Amigo, an epic film about the roots of Filipino-American ties. Amigo opens in local theaters on July 6 .
Written and directed by American independent filmmaker John Sayles, and starring a remarkable cast of Filipino and American actors, the film shows what happened when the U.S. first colonized the Philippines. While there were officials like Col. Hardacre (played by Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper) who was adamant about suppressing the Filipino resistance, there were also American soldiers such as Lt. Compton (played by Garret Dillahunt), who was a pacifist at heart.
“(The story) is set in a very specific time and place — northern Luzon in the year 1900,” Sayles writes in the film’s study guide. The director cites that the situation in the movie was the result of a series of events, among which were the decline of the Spanish regime in the Philippines, the uprising of the Katipunan, and the signing of the Treaty of Paris through which the U.S. “bought” the Philippines from Spain for 20 million dollars.
In the story, cabeza Rafael Dacanay, (portrayed by Joel Torre), is torn between keeping his barrio safe and following the new colonizers. The turmoil of this character, reveals Sayles, was based on what several Filipino cabezas really went through at that time.
Amigo aims to show the complexity of US-Philippine relations, through an action-packed, dramatic and heart-moving epic. “The Philippines and the United States now share a great deal of history and culture,” declares Sayles. “But until recently the beginnings of that long, complex relationship, was virtually unexplored.”
After reaping worldwide acclaim in international filmfests such as the Toronto International Film Festival and the San Sebastian Film Festival, Amigo comes home to Philippines, first through a premiere dubbed “Takip Silip” presented by Origin8 Media and Trinoma Mall held last June 28 at Trinoma Cinema One; followed by a Philippine-wide cinema release on July 6. Theatrical screening in the Philippines is ahead of the U.S. as Amigo will be shown there beginning August.
An exhibit of costumes used in the film, entitled “Veiled Memories of a Forsaken Past,” will be on view from June 28 to July 4 at the TriNoma cinema lobby, and in Greenbelt cinema lobby from July 4 to 7. This exhibit presented by TriNoma and Greenbelt showcases the artistry of costume designer Gino Gonzales (whose first period film project is Amigo).
Aside from Joel Torre, Chris Cooper and Garret Dillahunt the film stars Bembol Roco, Rio Locsin, Ronnie Lazaro, Jon Arcilla, Pen Medina, Irma Adlawan, Yul Vasquez (War of the Worlds, American Gangsters) and DJ Qualls (Road Trip). With dialogues mostly in Tagalog, Amigo will be shown in theaters with English subtitles. The film is Rated PG 13 by the MTRCB and has received an advisory/endorsement from the Department of Education (DepEd).
Amigo opens on July 6 at SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, SM Manila, SM Mall of Asia, SM Bacoor, SM Cebu, SM Davao, Gateway, Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Ermita, Glorietta 4 and Trinoma. With dialogues mostly in Tagalog, the film will be shown with English subtitles at SM Cebu, SM Mall of Asia and Glorietta 4.