The heart remembers what even history forgets.
Amigo, the 17th feature film from Academy Award-nominated writer-director and independent film pioneer, John Sayles (Matewan, 8 Men Out, Lone Star). A tale, circa 1900, of what followed the United States war against Spain. The U.S. sought to “liberate” the Philippines which morphed into an occupation with imperial ambitions and an ongoing state of violence and oppression. Sound familiar?
When U.S. troops occupy his village, Rafael (Joel Torre), the village mayor comes under pressure from a tough-as-nails officer (Chris Cooper) to help the Americans in their hunt for Filipino guerrilla fighters. Rafael’s brother (Ronnie Lazaro) leads the local guerrilla fighters, and considers anyone who cooperates with the Americans to be a traitor.
Rafael quickly finds himself forced to make the impossible, potentially deadly decisions faced by ordinary civilians in an occupied country: cooperation or resistance.
Set in the beauty of the jungle, with vivid antique backdrop, Amigo clearly invites comparison to more recent occupations and wars. Vietnam. Central America. Afghanistan. Iraq. Local circumstances may vary, but the outcome is maddeningly the same. The violence used to maintain an occupation just goes on and on, as the occupier digs in to stay.