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]