Award-winning movie director Brillante Mendoza’s camera angles for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday were generally well received, save for a few awkward shots and habits seemingly hard to break.
Praises were generally given to Mendoza’s use of black and white visual aids throughout key topics in the President’s speech. These included environment and mining issues, in which Mr. Duterte described the P70-billion tax the government collected from miners a pittance compared to the destruction on nature.
Likewise, photos were flashed in the background when the President called for the public to prepare for the “Big One,” showing photos from the earthquake in Surigao; as well as the Balangiga bells, which he demanded the Americans to return. “They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage,” Mr. Duterte said.
Highlighted during the speech as well was the logo of tax-errant Mighty Corporation. As a warning to future offenders—the result of which the President said will be the biggest tax settlement in the country’s history—he vowed never to allow the company to engage in any tobacco-related businesses again.
It was during the early part of the coverage that several awkward shots appeared in the telecast, specifically when the cameras zoomed in so closely on the President’s face. There were even a couple of times when the shot framed just his eyes, which were unusual in SONA coverage.
On Twitter, Alexa Villano commented, “Twice I saw the camera up close already to Duterte’s eyes for #SONA2017.” Ivan Pulanco said, “Someone tell the camera men to fix their sh*t. The close-ups of Duterte’s eyes are creepy as f*ck.”
On Facebook, the comments are somewhat mixed.
Xyza Cruz Bacani said, “As a visual person, I’m very disturbed on the cinematography. Hahaha. #NotSoBrilliant.”
Abe Pagtama commended, “I was watching #SONA2017. Congratulation(s) Direk Brillante Mendoza.”
One who obviously doesn’t look at pores or angles, Dexter Macaraeg posted, “Kudos Brillante Mendoza for a challenging, frank, realistic and simple directorial of today’s #SONA2017.”
Mendoza also let slip a shot he was fond of doing during the first SONA, which was to zoom in on the President’s hands once or twice. He completely veered away from undershots and the use of multiple angles, which drew most of the criticism in July 2016.
For the rest of the speech, Mendoza shifted between frontal shots of the President interspersed with audience reactions from the gallery, which overall delivered on his promise of a “simple” SONA coverage to allow viewers to focus on the Chief Executive’s message.
Moreover, the director handled the President’s adlibs—where Mr. Duterte made more use of his hands, and even take few steps away from the podium—steadily with tight shots, thereby showing viewers the different ways the Chief Executives stressed a point and used humor to deliver his message.
As such, with the Cannes’ winning director’s less experimental take this year, the probability of his return to the Batasang Pambansa a third time is almost as certain as Mr. Duterte’s propensity to break away from his prepared speeches.