Amigo is a 2010 American-Filipino drama film written and directed by John Sayles. The film takes place in the Philippines in 1900 during the Philippine-American War.
Based on 2012 book A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles.
Amigo centres on Rafael Dacanay, kapitan of the fictional barrio of San Isidro in a rice-growing area of Luzon. His brother Simón, head of the local guerrilla band, has forced the surrender of the Spanish guardia civil outpost and charged Rafael with the task of imprisoning the guardia Captain and the barrio’s Spanish friar, Padre Hidalgo, in the name of the revolutionary government.
But when the American troops chasing General Emilio Aguinaldo arrive, the Spanish officer and Padre Hidalgo are freed, and a garrison under the command of Lieutenant Ike Compton is left to “protect” the barrio.
The American occupation policy now changes from “hearts and minds” to “concentration” (what was called “hamletting” during the Vietnam war) and Rafael has to answer to both the Americans and the Filipino patriots, with deadly consequences.
- Joel Torre as Rafael Dacanay.
- Chris Cooper as Colonel Hardacre.
- Garret Dillahunt as Lieutenant Compton.
- DJ Qualls as Zeke.
- Yul Vazquez as Padre Hidalgo.
- Lucas Neff as Shanker.
- James Parks as Sergeant Runnels.
- Dane DeHaan as Gil.
- Stephen Taylor as Private Bates.
- Rio Locsin as Corazon Dacanay.
- Jemi Paretas as Zuniga.
- Bill Tangradi as Dutch.
- Bembol Roco as Policarpio.
- Ronnie Lazaro as Simon.
- Irma Adlawan as Josefa.
- Joe Gruta as Hilario.
- John Arcilla as Nenong.
Cinematical reports that the film was once titled Baryo, and that the idea for it came from a yet-to-be-published novel Some Time in the Sun, detailing US imperialism in the Philippines. The book will actually be called A Moment in the Sun, though the unrealised screenplay which inspired it was called Some Time in the Sun.
The screenplay was written in two weeks and it was filmed over eight months on the island province of Bohol.
Sayles said the “amigo” of the title was the mayor:
The American soldiers were always asked, “Is he a good amigo or a bad amigo?” There was some irony to him being called an amigo. However, the complication in that movie that the usual war movie, you follow the guys on one side and the other side is the enemy. You root for the guys on your side and the other side is shooting at them. This is a movie where it’s almost evenly divided. Forty-eight percent is in English, 48 percent is in Tagalog, and there’s a little Cantonese and Spanish thrown in. So the audience is asked to do something they’re not normally asked in a chronological war movie, which is to spend time with all the combatants and the noncombatants. They, therefore, know more than any, one character does. That affects the structure as well, but there is just a structure of events. But how you feel about those events is different because you get to be on both sides and actually care about people on both sides. In a way, what I hope is that by the end of the movie, you’re hoping that they won’t have a confrontation, but that confrontation is inevitable.
The cast includes the “crème de la crème” of Philippine actors.
It was screened on 14 September at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Then later at the San Sebastián International Film Festival and the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival.
Amigo had its New York premiere at the 2011 Asian American International Film Festival on 10 August.
In the Philippines, the film was released on 06 July 2011 by Star Cinema and Origin8Media.
The film was released in North America on 19 August 2011 by Variance Films.
See also Heneral Luna (2015).
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): John Sayles.
- Producer(s): Maggie Reni, Mario Ontal, and Joel Torre.
- Writer(s): John Sayles.
- Music: Mason Daring.
- Editor(s): John Sayles.
- Production: Anarchist’s Convention Inc.
- Distributor(s): Variance Films (North America), Star Cinema, and Origin8Media.
- Release Date: 14 July 2010.
- Running Time: 128 minutes.
- Rating: R.
- Country: US and Philippines.
- Language: Filipino.