As the classic expression goes, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. This certainly applies to both the behavior of individuals and of nations. In the case of the United States of America, much of the foreign policy we have pursued in the past 100 years has been an ending set of lessons not learned and mistakes repeated. To illustrate this point, veteran indie director John Sayles looks back at a forgotten war at the start of the 20th century to draw disturbing parallels to our current international involvements.
AMIGO, the 17th feature film from Academy Award-nominated writer-director John Sayles, stars legendary Filipino actor Joel Torre as Rafael, a village mayor caught in the murderous crossfire of the Philippine-American War. When U.S. troops occupy his village, Rafael comes under pressure from a tough-as-nails officer (Chris Cooper) to help the Americans in their hunt for Filipino guerilla fighters. But Rafael’s brother (Ronnie Lazaro) is the head of the local guerillas, 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. A powerful drama of friendship, betrayal, romance and heartbreaking violence, AMIGO is a page torn from the untold history of the Philippines, and a mirror of today’s unresolvable conflicts.