MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Filmmaker Brillante Mendoza directed President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address, and while his movies like Thy Womb and Kinatay have won international awards, the SONA was met with mixed reviews.
Among some filmmakers, industry members, and personalities, the camera angles that caught the president weren’t exactly a hit.
Dennis Garcia of the band Hotdog said that Mendoza’s style – which has had his movies nominated for awards at international film festivals – didn’t “click” for the SONA.
Dennis pointed out that there was a problem with the sound and there were no arresting graphics during the president’s 90-minute speech.
On Facebook, activist and performance artist Carlos Celdran quipped about the Brillante’s cinematic SONA.
In a Facebook message to Rappler, actor and animation producer Edwin Guillermo said that Mendoza’s direction was “weird.”
“Alam kong award-winning filmmaker siya at nirerespeto ko siya. Pero ‘di ata tugma style ng feature film para sa formal speech. Naiintindihan ko gusto niya magexperiment ng techniques pero parang mali ang venue and audience para doon,” he said.
(I know he’s an award-winning filmmaker and I respect him. But a feature film style doesn’t suit a formal speech. I understand that he wanted to experiment with techniques, but it seemed like the wrong venue and audience for that.)
“Mas maraming non-artist ang manonood kasi ng SONA. Marami tuloy nahilo at nalito sa mga nanood,” he explained.
(There are more non-artists who watch the SONA. As a result, many of the viewers got dizzy and confused.)
Edwin added: “Sa mga kapwa senior filmmakers niya nalilito rin sa low angle shots kasi mala-Leni Riefenstahl na Nazi propaganda naiisip nila.”
(His fellow senior filmmakers were also confused by the low angle shots, because it somehow reminded them of Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda films.)
Director Raya Martin joked that the “cinematic highlight” of Brillante’s directing was his dolly shot of Vilma Santos.
Cinematic highlight of SONA: Vilma Santos dolly shot! @brillante_ma— Raya (@rayamartin) July 25, 2016
In a Facebook message to Rappler, director and actor Joaquin Valdes said: “I think there is a time and place for everything. Obviously, this new admin is welcoming new methods, new ideas, new attempts, but not everything new will necesarily work.
“Direk Dante may have been trying to create meaning and semiotics in his frames that it took away from the most important message of yesterday’s event – [President Duterte’s] speech. The coverage could have taken its cue from the President and echoed his brevity and straightforward clarity. There is beauty and art in being still too.”
He added that Duterte’s administration will be a period of learning: “Nonetheless, the next 6 years will be a work in progress, learning from trials and errors like these. I congratulate Direk Dante Mendoza for being brave enough to try something new. That in itself is an achievment.”
Many other social media users spoke up about the different camera angles that caught the president while he was on the podium.
A meme of one of the low angles and the golden spiral imposed on top has spread on social media, with users saying the unusual angle was part of Mendoza’s artistic vision.
I trust Brillante Mendoza's brilliance in film making, until this shot happened. Why oh why?pic.twitter.com/sLUeky70U9— Taylor (@bangsieMio) July 25, 2016
A photo of Mendoza behind the scenes also went viral online, while others joked about other directors taking the helm next year. One of the contenders: Lav Diaz, whose last film, Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, runs for 8 hours.
Brillante Mendoza directed the president’s SONA pro bono, and in an interview on July 18, he said that he wanted to help capture the kind of president Duterte is.
In May, Brillante’s movie Ma’ Rosa competed in the Cannes Film Festival. Jaclyn Jose brought home the Best Actress award for her performance in the film. – Rappler.com