ABS-CBN International will be hosting a “special sneak peek” opening of Quezon’s Game in Los Angeles at the Downtown Independent Theater, December 16-22.
In a time when the government of Israel is deporting Filipino workers and their families, Quezon’s Game couldn’t be a more appropriate movie to watch now. Quezon’s Game, directed by Jewish filmmaker Matthew Rosen, follows the tumultuous months before World War II when Manuel Quezon served as President of the Philippine Commonwealth, the precursor to an independent Philippine nation. At the helm of the Commonwealth government, Quezon learns of the plight of European Jews, who sought to escape the evil throws of Nazi Germany who were slowly dominating Europe. Quezon, despite the concerns of his own people, gains sympathy of the Jews’ plight and concocts a plan to provide them with refuge. Still the colonial possession of the United States, the decision to allow such migration of people lied not with Quezon, but with U.S. Congress. During games of poker with several high-positioned officials, Quezon employs his political wits to convince the American colonial government to allow 1,300 Jewish refugees to come to the Philippines, one of the very few countries to do so.
Raymond Bagatsing performance as Quezon is very remarkable. He’s able to convey Quezon’s political savvyness with dignity as well as his frailty (Quezon is suffering from tuberculosis at this point of his life) with much sensitivity. While some of Bagatsing’s acting belongs in a telenovela rather than an epic narrative film (particularly the scene here he lashes out his anger to his desk), the majority of his performance is quite superb.
Rachel Alejandro, as the loyal yet fierce wife of Quezon, Aurora, convincingly portrays a former first lady. The supporting cast, namely David Bianco (Dwight D. Eisenhower), James Paoleli (Paul McNutt), and Billy Ray Gallion (Alex Frieder), play outstanding roles as Quezon’s American co-conspirators.
Unlike the much-lauded Heneral Luna and its pseudo-sequel Goyo, Quezon’s Game lacks the blockbuster budget to fully transport the audience to pre-WWII Manila. Even the decision to film at the Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar resort in Bataan – where restored ancestral homes of the Philippines recalls an early historical period – falls a bit short in depicting 1938 Manila. Yet, big budgets and action on the battlefield is not what this film is about. Quezon’s Game is a political film, more focused on the battles of the brain rather than braun.
Ultimately, Quezon’s Game is a triumphant retelling of an important, yet untold story in world history. It’s a told of compassion and responsibility. The movie is necessary in this day and age when intolerance dominates the decisions of governments from Israel to the United States, and even the current Philippine administration. It’s a heeding call for more sensible leaders to safeguard and protect all people from evil no matter the political stakes.
QUEZON’S GAME ”special sneak peek” in Los Angeles, December 16th – 22nd
The Downtown Independent
251 S. Main St. Los Angeles, CA 90012