John Sayles

Baryo update and some older clips

Some details about Garret’s character in Baryo showed up today on yet another blog to watch, Extras in Paradise. This is from a Q & A with John Sayles:

EA – Are any of the characters based on the journal authors?

[John Sayles] – A lot of the soldiers are compilations of the soldiers I read about in many diaries. More specifically Chris Cooper’s (Colonel Hardacre) is based on an actual Colonel named Hellroarin’ Jacob Smith. Lieutenant Compton’s character is based on a volunteer officer, which would have been one of the better educated Americans who came to the Philippines for… glory or something. They eventually had to choose to go home or sign up as an officer. Compton’s plays one of those men who begins to pick his head up and see what’s going on. Rafael is based on any of the 100,000 or Filipino mayors who suffered by being caught between the American’s and the rebels.

And I’ve finally uploaded a few clips from Maximum Bob and the early movies. You can find them here: Maximum Bob, By Courier, Last Call, Remembering Sex.

Here is one from Maximum Bob, with Liz Vassey:

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More details about Baryo

Manila Bulletin has an interview with Joel Torre, a Filipino actor who will play a character named Rafael in Baryo, while the local Inquirer talked to director John Sayles.

Joel is in the thick of preparations for his on-and-off-screen participation in American independent filmmaker John Sayles’ historical war drama, “Baryo,” which will start its six-week shoot in Bohol on Feb. 2. (…)

Baryo,” says Joel, is set during the Philippine-American War that took place from 1899 to 1902 and imparts different points of view – that of the colonizers, the rebels, and the civilians caught in the crossfire. It also touches on the roots of American imperialism.

“It’s an obscure part of our history that needs to be told,” the Bacolod native, who broke into the biz via Peque Gallaga’s 1982 war epic, “Oro, Plata, Mata,” tells Manila Bulletin Entertainment Online in an interview, adding that the movie will surely raise questions.

Joel says “Baryo” may stir controversy especially since Sayles, whose original screenplays for 1993’s “Passion Fish” and 1997’s “Lone Star” had both been nominated for Oscars, is known to tackle political and social issues in his films. (…)

Joining Joel onscreen are foreign actors headed by Sayles regular Chris Cooper, Oscar best supporting actor for 2002’s “Adaptation,” who will play an American colonel.

Garret Dillahunt, notably of “No Country for Old Men,” is also in the movie along with other US-based actors including Fil-Am Arthur Acuna.

Joel informs us that another Sayles regular, David Strathairn, whose performance in 2005’s “Good Night, and Good Luck” earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor, was supposed to be in “Baryo” as well, but schedule conflict prevented him from doing so.

Ronnie Lazaro, Pen Medina, John Arcilla, Joe Gruta, Bodjie Pascua, Spanky Manikan, Rio Locsin, Irma Adlawan, and some local Bohol talents round up the cast.

Baryo” is set for a U.S. release later this year. [Manila Bulletin]

And from the other article:

“In my readings, I stumbled on the Philippine-American War, which is hardly tackled in history books. I saw parallels between the Philippines and Vietnam and the other wars we’ve been in,” Sayles recounted.

He immersed himself in historical documents from that era, he said, including diaries of American soldiers, Nick Joaquin’s books and Jose Rizal’s novels in original Spanish.

Three years later, he came up with his own novel. “I’ve yet to find a publisher for the novel, but when I focused on the script, it took me only a month to write it,” said Sayles.

The English script was translated to Tagalog by local screenwriter Jose F. Lacaba.

Filming “Baryo” can be a mighty challenge, Sayles admitted. After sifting through tons of material, he must recreate history in organic detail—the sound of coughing motorbikes and crowing roosters, notwithstanding.

“Our production designer, Rodel Cruz, is building a village on the edge of a rice field,” he related.

Although he is bringing in American actors (like DJ Qualls and Garret Dillahunt) to play the occupying army, Sayles will work with homegrown talents like Joel Torre, Ronnie Lazaro, Irma Adlawan, Spanky Manikan, Rio Locsin, John Arcilla, among other actors. [Inquirer]

In other news, The Road is on the short list for the best makeup Oscar. (The final list of nominations will be announced on February 2.)

New film: John Sayles’ Baryo

Some film news. Garret will be joining Chris Cooper (American Beauty, Seabiscuit, Breach) in a new film from John Sayles (Matewan, Eight Men Out, Limbo, Sunshine State), tentatively titled Baryo. The film is set in the Philippines during the period leading up to the Spanish-American war in 1898 and will focus on the events that happen to the military in the baryo (Filipino for ‘barrio’). Garret will play Lt. Compton, one of the American officers stationed in the country. Filming starts in February in the Philippines (before Unbound Captives).

Sayles and Cooper have worked together a number of times and neither of them is stranger to awards. Cooper won an Oscar for Adaptation and Sayles was nominated twice for best original screenplay (Passion Fish, Lone Star).

Here is some background on Sayles’ interest in the period, from a Los Angeles Times article dated May 26, 2009, about his novel “Some Time in the Sun,” which deals with similar themes as the film:

Some 10 years ago he began to write a movie about America’s 1898 war with Spain over the Philippines, viewing it as an eerie precursor of U.S. military exploits in Vietnam. He was also fascinated by the last gasp of Reconstruction — the era of virulent, post-Civil War racism. These two story lines fused and the script became unwieldy.

“There was no way in hell we were ever going to raise the money to make the film,” Sayles says. “I felt like I was pushing way too much stuff into a two-hour-and-20-minute format, and it would work better as a miniseries. But who gets to come in and say, ‘Oh, I want to make a 50-part miniseries about America at the turn of the century’?”

He finally decided the story should be a novel, which led to years of research and writing. “Some Time in the Sun” — like his films — blends vivid human portraits with historical events and brilliantly captures individual voices. In addition to his raucous newsboys, it spotlights African American and white soldiers fighting in the Philippines, fast-buck artists who help create the motion picture industry, and features cameos by Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, William Randolph Hearst, Damon Runyon and other historical figures. [Los Angeles Times]