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Brillante Mendoza explains Duterte’s closeup shots at SONA 2017

UP CLOSE SHOTS. Diretor Brillante Mendoza says he respects the opinions of those criticizing his style of directing President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address. Photo by Alexa Villano/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Director Brillante Mendoza said on Tuesday, July 25, that, unlike the first time he directed President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2016, he was more prepared and relaxed this year.

"It’s different in a way that I’m more prepared, I’m more relaxed, unlike the first time I was stressed because I got the speech at the last minute. Now, at least 4 hours before his arrival, the speech was with me. So at least, in a way, I was able to prepare myself mentally for the shots," Mendoza told Rappler in a mix of English and Filipino after the press conference for his new show Amo for TV 5.

On Monday, July 24, Mendoza directed Duterte’s SONA a second time. The President’s speech ran for two hours.

Mendoza said that he was aware of Duterte’s tendency to not follow his prepared speeches, so he factored that in the time he allotted for the program. (READ: SONA 2017: Report to nation or report vs critics?)

"Well I was prepared for that. In fact, during his first SONA, I knew he wouldn’t follow the script – as in, he really does not follow prepared scripts. He wants to be more spontaneous. He wants to express his emotion, whatever he feels that particular moment. He wants to express that. And he’s that kind of person. That’s why that’s also I want to capture. It’s not hard for me," he said.

The Ma’ Rosa director also explained why he did extreme closeup shots of the President, which some netizens criticized.

"It’s in the interpretation. In aesthetics of cinematography, you get close to the person because you want to see his soul, part of [his] soul. You want to show his sincerity, his genuine sincerity. And that’s what I want to show – his genuine sincerity. And that he’s looking, watching after the people. I mean, if we listen to what he’s saying, he means business.

"That’s why after that extreme closeup, I showed the people and the full shot. Soit’s like everyone is like listening to him and he’s like saying ‘I’m watching over you.’ I know if you are committing this or that," Mendoza said.

In a separate interview with reporters, Mendoza was asked what he had to say to those who criticized his style of directing the SONA.

"Like what I have said, I respect their opinion. That’s their opinion. But for me, I hope they look at the direct message of the President, not the shot because it’s not important for them to look at the shot I make," he said.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invite

OVERDUE. Mendoza says he’s happy about the invitation the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sent to him, although he said they could have invited other Filipino filmmakers in the past. Photo by Alexa Villano/Rappler

Mendoza also talked about the invitation he received from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars. In June, he and director Lav Diaz were listed among those invited by the Academy to be part of the group.

According to Mendoza, the Academy is aware of his filmography and that he got an email, which he initially thought was a spam letter.

He admitted that his works are different from those from the Academy’s standards. In fact, he said that he and Diaz almost had the same sentiments about receiving the letter, since they could have invited other Filipino filmmakers in the past.

"I think we have the same sentiment and feeling na bakit kami (why us)? At the same time, why only now, why not before? Why not Lino Brocka? Why not Ishmael Bernal? I mean, it’s long overdue," he said.

He said the Philippines was number 3 in producing the most number of films, next to the United States and India.

"But I recognized that. I am very happy. I’m going to fill up that form," he said.

Mendoza is promoting Amo, a 12-episode miniseries starring Derek Ramsay, Allen Dizon, and newcomer Vince Rillon. The show depicts the administration’s war on drugs.

Amo premieres on August 20. –