‘Quezon’s Game’ on PH Holocaust heroism opens in US and Canada
SAN FRANCISCO — Critically acclaimed film “Quezon’s Game” will begin its U.S. and Canada theatrical rollout January 24 and 31 respectively.
Hailed during its multi-award-winning international festival run and successful theatrical release in the Philippines, “Quezon’s Game” is based on a true story of Holocaust heroism during World War II in the Philippines by Filipino President Manuel L. Quezon.
Quezon rescued as many persecuted Jews as Oskar Schindler did at a time when most countries were turning their backs on the horrific crime perpetrated by the Nazis. The release of “Quezon’s Game” also marks the landmark 75thanniversary on January 27 of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi’s most-notorious concentration camp.
Quezon’s Game is the feature film directorial debut of Matthew Rosen (also serving as cinematographer) who has directed television, music videos and more than 700 commercials over 25 years, winning more than 50 international awards. Rosen—a British national residing in the Philippines since 1986—and his Filipino wife, Lorena “Lori” Rosen, who co-produced the film, heard the little-known story of the film from members of the Jewish Association of the Philippines in 2009 and instantly realized they needed to retell this extraordinary and moving story on the big screen. The film is a Star Cinema/ABS-CBN Film Productions project in association with iWant and Kinetek.
As WWII loomed and the 1930s drew to a close, desperate Jewish refugees seeking to flee German/Austrian ghettos and the escalating atrocities of the Nazi regime found little help from countries around the world.
More than 10,000 miles away, over weekend poker games at the Malacanañg Palace, prominent Jewish businessman, two-for-a-nickel cigar maker Alex Frieder (Billy Ray Gallion), implored his friend “Manny,” Filipino President Manuel L. Quezon (Raymond Bagatsing), to assist him in establishing asylum for refugees in the tropical, island country. Also helping devise the dramatic rescue plan was American diplomat Paul V. McNutt (James Paolelli), who labored to overcome oppressive U.S. objections to the plan, imperiling his own political career and presidential aspirations.
Willing to risk it all, it was a moral obligation the Filipino leader was determined to fulfill despite astronomical obstacles, with the Philippines struggling, U.S.-reliant economy and his own gravely failing health due to a relapse of tuberculosis.
Instrumental as well was an ambitious, young U.S. Army Colonel, future president Dwight D. Eisenhower (David Bianco). Eisenhower was then chief aide to General Douglas MacArthur, who serving in the Philippines, a U.S. territory at a time when Filipinos (even diplomats and officials) and African Americans were required to use “Colored” bathrooms at the White House.
Although Quezon’s intent to rescue 10,000 Jews was abruptly curtailed by the December 8, 1941 invasion and three-year occupation of his country by the Japanese, he, his wife, Aurora (Rachel Alejandro), and daughter, Baby (Kate Alejandrino), succeeded against all odds to welcome more than 1,200 refugees, initially housing them on his own family’s Marikina estate. Yet in his final days in 1944, as president in U.S. exile, he regretfully turned to Aurora and asked, “Could I have done more?”
Comments Director Matthew Rosen: “I am a Jew who grew up in England and have experienced bigotry, but after 37 years in the Philippines, to this day, I have never come across prejudice, dislike or distrust because I am white or Jewish. I’m Pinoy at heart and this was truly a passion project for me. The story behind ‘Quezon’s Game’ remains a reflection of the Filipino people today, a warm and welcoming culture.
“In a time of war, when the rest of the world was in despair and apathetic, the Filipino people—who were suffering their own hardships—shed a light on justice and morality to lead others. Quezon fought a lonely battle for what was right up until his untimely death. The message of this amazing story, which was largely forgotten, is more important than ever to in today’s growing climate of intolerance—and my wife, Lori, and I wanted to tell it. It’s my ‘thank you’ to the Philippines.”
Rated PG-13 / 126 Minutes / Historical Drama / English + Tagalog (with English Subtitles)
Watch the trailer: https://vimeo.com/377850707
U.S. THEATERS: https://www.quezonsgame.com/ustheaters
CANADA THEATERS: https://www.quezonsgame.com/canada