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John Sayles

  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2010
  • Language: Tagalog, English, Spanish
  • Producer: Maggie Renzi
  • Screenplay: John Sayles
  • Runtime: 128
  • Programmes:

The US occupation of the Philippines in 1900 provides the backdrop to this story of squad of American soldiers who occupy a village and learn how to live and negotiate with the natives. They focus on the local head man who finds himself torn between loyalty to his family and the Americans.


screening times

    • Tuesday September 14
    • 10:30:00 PM
    • Wednesday September 15
    • 3:00:00 PM
    • Sunday September 19
    • 3:00:00 PM
    • Tiff Bell LightBox 1

Note: indicates Premium Screening.

official description

An American invasion of a foreign country. A battle for hearts and minds. A pacification programme to quell an insurgency. Guerrilla warfare. Firefights. Sound familiar? Well, yes and no. Über-indie American filmmaker John Sayles winds the clock back to 1900 and the US occupation of the Philippines in his brave new film, Amigo. Sayles finds many parallels behind this little-remembered event in history and current events in Iraq and Afghanistan. As always, this most singular of directors provides a clear, lucid and dramatically compelling portrait and analysis of American colonization and the latent imperialism behind some of its wars.

The film revolves around the occupation by a squad of U.S. soldiers of a small, rural village. Headed by a respected elder, whom the Yankees refer to as “Amigo,” the villagers are forced to deal with this foreign presence as rules are set, curfews introduced and small attempts at democracy initiated. But the most significant tension in the film lies in the village’s relationship with a rebel group leading the resistance to the occupation. Amigo’s brother is the rebel leader, and his son runs off to join them, so he constantly finds himself torn between balancing what is right for the village and what this means to his family.

The joys of the film are many. Determined to remain true to historic recreation, the film has the ring of authenticity. But Sayles also excels in giving complexity to the human dilemmas that form the core of the narrative. As Amigo struggles to make certain decisions, the US lieutenant in charge of the village has to deal with the insensitive arrogance of his commanding officer. While the junior officer tries to win hearts and minds, his superior prefers the heavy hand of threat and torture. As the film moves towards its climax, all the various strands of the story converge to provide a unique and telling culmination. Thoughtful and provocative, John Sayles is still the conscience of American cinema.

Piers Handling

director bio

John Sayles was born in Schenectady, New York. One of the most celebrated independent American directors of the last three decades, he has also authored novels, short stories, plays and screenplays. Amigo (10) is the tenth of his films to play at the Festival, following Return of the Secaucus Seven(80), The Brother from Another Planet (84), Matewan (87), Passion Fish (92), The Secret of Roan Inish(94), Men with Guns(97), Casa de los Babys (03), Silver City (04) and Honeydripper (07). His other films include Lianna(83), Baby, It’s You (83), Eight Men Out(88), City of Hope(91), Lone Star(96), Limbo (99) and Sunshine State(02).

full credits

Principal Cast: Joel Torre, Garret Dillahunt , Chris Cooper, DJ Qualls, Rio Locsin , Ronnie Lazaro, Bembol Roco
Maggie Renzi
Lee Briones-Meily
John Sayles
Judy Karp
Production Designer:
Rodell Cruz
International Sales Agent:
Production Company:
Pinoy Pictures, Inc.
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