Not many actors would travel halfway across the world and embark upon a multi-city tour to promote a film that they did not also write or direct. But, then again, Joel Torre is not like most actors. With a career spanning over four decades, “JT” has starred on stage and on the big screen, in mainstream and indie films, and in both Filipino and U.S.-based productions. And his dexterity is not limited to acting (or directing or producing, all jobs he has done in theatre and television). As owner of JT’s Manukan Grille—a chain of roadside restos featuring specialties from his hometown (Bacolod) such as chicken inasal and batchoy, he is also a beloved figure among foodies and bloggers.
This past Saturday, August 20th, JT arrived in San Francisco for the opening weekend of his latest project AMIGO, a film directed by John Sayles (forever the “underdog” proponent) and one of the very few U.S. cinematic attempts to address the oft-forgotten history of the Philippine-American War (1899-1904). A special event to benefit Bindlestiff Studio—a Filipino American performing arts venue in the city’s SoMA neighborhood—the screening took place at UA Stonestown with an after-party at Bindlestiff’s own Rene Acosta’s latest venture, Social Kitchen & Brewery. Unfortunately, already feeling under the weather, JT appeared unprepared for the Daly City fog, forgetting that a “San Francisco summer night” requires (at least) a light jacket or hoodie.
Yet, despite its stops and starts, the evening proved to be a huge success, raising over $1,500 for the upcoming resurrection of Bindlestiff Studio at its original location (185 Sixth Street), thanks to the collective efforts of artists, administrators, and volunteers over this past decade. Bringing together community members and supporters, old and new, from L.A. to the Bay, it also served as an informal reunion for those of us who’ve been involved in the California-based Filipino American arts scene since before the turn of this latest century.
For more information on AMIGO, click here.
For an equally epic account of the Philippine-American War and its cultural impact, check out filmmaker Angel Velasco Shaw and writer Luis Francia’s edited collection, VESTIGES OF WAR: THE PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN WAR AND THE AFTERMATH OF AN IMPERIAL DREAM, 1899-1999.
To find out how you too can help keep the Bindlestiff dream alive, click here.
And, if you STILL need another reason to believe that Joel Torre is a cool na cool, Super Astig guy, check out this short webisode from writer Lourd de Veyra’s “Word of the Lourd: Make Your Own Indie Film” series. Featuring a few other Filipino indie celebs our readers might be able to identify and perhaps even “collaborated” with, in the past.