This harrowing documentary about the Phillippine Scouts in World War II is directed by Donald Plata. Narrated by Lou Diamond Phillips (“Courage Under Fire,” “La Bamba”)— himself a Philippine native—the film focuses on Philippine soldiers enlisted during the Second World War to counter the Japanese attack.
With first-hand accounts from a number of veterans of the significant battles of Bataan, Subic Bay, Abucay, and Corregidor, it tells a tragically heroic tale of the soldiers who fought to save their land and “hold the lines” even as they received no reinforcements and were dying by the thousands in Japanese POW camps.
The film includes re-enactments in the style typical of war films—the grayish brown hue of the camera, the live-action firing, the close-ups of dead bodies strewn across the ground—and also live-footage of war reels from the time. The film achieves a dual effect: that of presenting the courageous soldiers in a heroic light, as well as subtly placing a blame on those that did nothing to help. The wonderful score, though at times a little out-of-place, only underlines the epic tale of these soldiers.
There is a chilling moment when one vet explains his orders: “The order was, ‘All this, at all costs.’…so, you know what that means.”
Another striking and ironic moment is the surrender of General Wainwright to the Japanese, occurring on the anniversary of the famous surrender of Robert E. Lee and his troops at Appomattox not 100 year earlier. As the narrator says, they both surrendered for the same reason: to save their dying troops.
There is without a doubt an unsettling truth that “Forgotten Soldiers” brilliantly presents: the soldiers found themselves in a seemingly hopeless situation when they received no back-up, and yet they were courageous and undeniably valiant, determined to not give up. And that is what the film so eloquently achieves.
The film won the Power of Film award at the festival.
“The Lutefisk Wars”
Directed by David E. Hall and Christopher Panneck, this film follows a young country couple in the Norwegian town of Newford, North Dakota as they get caught up in a series of events involving an ancient lutefisk recipe and the Norwegian mafia. Corny at times and utterly cringe-worthy at others, “The Lutefisk Wars” walks a fine line between being charmingly witty and over-the-top silly.
The film achieves a funny, free-spirited, small town humor. It stars Stewart Skelton (“Failure to Launch,” “White Picket Fence”) as the newly engaged, aspiring chef Karl Larsen; Deb Hiett as his fiancé, Gail; comedian Regan Burns as the town police officer, Marty; and the ever-funny Joel McCrary (“Princess Diaries,” “Over The Hedge”) as the Lutheran monk, Brother Louie.
When an old man turns up out of nowhere and suddenly keels over in Larson’s kitchen, Karl begins receiving death-threats from mysterious callers. His fiancé is kidnapped and he turns to Marty and Brother Louie for help. After finding out the old man left a lutefisk recipe that has been fought over for centuries by two feuding Norwegian mafia families, they come up with a plan to get Gail back and make both families happy.
The film’s greatest feat is its ability to bring small town humor and give it a parody-like feel. References to the very-popular 1960’s television series, “The Andy Griffith Show,” give the film its much-needed charm. In the end, it is funny and worthy of an eye-roll; silly, but bearable. It gives off the small town humor that makes you wish for the good ole days of Deputy Barney Fife and Sheriff Andy Taylor.
The film won both Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the film festival.