Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Brillante Mendoza may be praised all the way to Cannes for his award-winning indie films such as Kinatay, Thy Womb, and Ma’ Rosa, but not so on his direction of President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday where online criticisms seemed to like his way of directing.
Save for congratulatory posts from friends on his Facebook page, the 55-year-old indie film luminary mostly drew flak from social media.
A week ago, Malacañang announced that Mendoza accepted the offer of Palace Communications Office (PCOO) chief Martin Andanar to direct the President’s SONA for free. However, the buzz in showbiz circles is that it was Mendoza who offered his services to the Duterte administration instead.
All the same, the updates that followed had Mendoza relating that his goal is to capture President Duterte while delivering his speech in a way that viewers would feel as if he was talking right in front of them.The director further explained that he will not show the President delivering his speech in the way he personally believes he should but rather from the standpoint of the Filipinos who need to understand Mr. Duterte’s message.
“I’d like to capture the spontaneity. I think that’s what makes the person real. And him as the President, if you capture those moments, I think it will endear him to the people,” Mendoza said in a previous interview.
On SONA day, Mendoza made use of numerous close-up shots of the President, worm’s eye views, slow transitions and slow camera panning shots, often focusing on Mr. Duterte’s hand movements, or lack thereof when he merely places them as one normally would on the sides of a podium while delivering a speech.
There were some reactions that described Mendoza’s direction “artsy” and “brilliant,” but in general, netizens expressed they were annoyed by the unnecessary camera angles used throughout the speech, and ultimately poked fun at the director’s first foray into SONA coverage.
“This weird camera angle is brought you by Brillante Mendoza. Still waiting for the indie blur. #SONA2016,” Twitter user @inogino posted.
“Wait is this the distinction Brilliante Mendoza is talking about for the SONA? Some angles were kind of disturbing,” user @jasmineaspiras said.
Twitter user @RenzoEnrico_ commented: “If what Brillante Mendoza meant by ‘we will see the real Duterte’ is seeing the President’s brain through his nostrils, well…#DuterteSONA.”
“Not liking that cam shot under the nose, table, podium whatever,” user @pr1mogeniture tweeted.
Meanwhile, in an interview on News5, Mendoza explained he merely wanted to make the SONA more relatable to common people.
“If the shots were too formal and taken from afar, it would become too static, as if there was this division between the President and the people. You wouldn’t feel connected to him. With my takes, he achieved connection with the people,” Mendoza said.
Meanwhile, Secretary Andanar in a separate report on GMA News said that Malacañang was “very, very satisfied” with Mendoza’s work.
“His direction showed what the President is like; there wasn’t anything contrived about it,” he said.
“If anything, maybe the viewers noticed a different kind of lighting this time compared to past SONAs. It was quite dark in the gallery where the guests and Congressmen were sat so that the President was the sole focus of the speech. If you watch that on television, it’s perfect,” he explained.
Andanar added that Mendoza had more ideas in mind if only rules did not get in the way. The director and his crew were limited by standard protocols for SONA.
“There were protocols from the PSG he needed to follow as well as rules from the Lower House he needed to respect,” Andanar pointed out.