“On the President’s Orders”

“On the President’s Orders”

Filmmakers wouldn’t

dare come back to RP

Deadline associate editor Dino-Ray Ramos listens to James Jones, producer and co-director of the documentary film “On the President’s Orders” as he stresses a point during the question and answer portion that followed the docu-film’s screening at the Landmark Theater in West Los Angeles last Tuesday (September 24). Olivier Sarbil, cinematographer and co-director of the documentary film, also listens.
Photo by Abner Galino

By Abner Galino

The filmmakers of a
recent documentary about the Philippine government’s so-called war on illegal drugs
said returning there would be “unwise.”

James Jones, producer and co-director and Olivier Sarbil, cinematographer
and co-director of the documentary film “On the President’s Orders” made the
statement during the question and answer portion that followed the docu-film’s
screening at the Landmark Theater in West Los Angeles last Tuesday (September

“We would like to
come back to Manila for the screening on Friday, and it would have been a very
emotional meeting for us, but I think it is probably unwise to go back to the Philippines,”
Jones replied to one of the audience who asked them if they would ever go back
to the Philippines.

Jones and Sarbil were
apparently affected by the negative reaction from Philippine presidential spokesman
Salvador Panelo who sees the docu-film as “overdramatized” and containing
“unmitigated vilifications.”

“The docufilm,
together with its so-called cinematic investigation on drug-related deaths,
evidently has been deliberately overdramatized for the purpose, apart from
putting the Philippines in a bad light, of creating a better cinematic
experience for its audience,” Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo added that
“the Palace is vexed by the continuous spread of disinformation against
our country’s campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.”

The filmmakers,
however, denied the docu-film is biased.

Jones recalled that
when they also made a documentary about another controversial shooting incident
in the United States three years ago, they really labored to get all the sides
to the story.

“We didn’t impose our
own commentary, our own analysis, we just allowed people to speak for
themselves. Even the police officers’ wives thought that the film was
fair.  And we wanted to achieve the same
with this (On the President’s Orders),” explained Jones.

“We didn’t want the
viewers to feel that we have an agenda, obviously people who are very pro-Duterte
may still feel that same way. If the police come across badly, that’s solely
because of their actions and not because we introduced them in a certain way,”
Jones stressed.

The docu-film “On the
President’s Orders” is about Philippine president’s Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody
campaign against drug dealers and addicts.

filmmakers were able to gain access to the police force of the City of
Caloocan, a part of Metro Manila, and the people affected by the bloody anti-drug
campaign — among them were the family members of one of those slain by
motorcycle “riding-in-tandem” assassins and an elderly man who works for a
funeral parlor.

from the violence, the film was also able to vividly capture a face of
third-world poverty — the woeful coalescence of rusting galvanized metal
sheets, tattered wood and stones; the snaky and cramped alleys; and the
impoverished people who dwell in this kind of neighborhood.

 Even the city police’s headquarters, it
appeared, is not spared to the clutch of such swamping scarceness; nor the
policemen themselves who survive their days carrying old guns, equipment and
other provisions.

more appalling were the scenes shot in the atrociously crowded city jail and
the equally awful violence of the jail warden to the prisoners.

has been reported that the 71-minute long documentary is to be used as evidence
by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as part of its ongoing investigation
in the alleged government-sanctioned killings in the Philippines.

The interview with
the Emmy-awarded filmmakers was admirably conducted by Filipino American
Dino-Ray Ramos, an associate editor at the Deadline.com.

Deadline is an online
news site that launched the documentary screening series titled “For the Loved
of Docs” at the Landmark Theatre through Hulu.

A slate of 10
documentaries will screen for free viewing each week until December 10.

The lineup is curated
by James Costa and Lauren Lexton, award-winning producers and members of the
board of directors of the International
Documentary Association

On the President’s
Orders was presented in the documentary film festival by Frontline, ARTE
France production in co-production with Mongoose Pictures in association with
BBC Storyville, Bertha Doc Society.

Its producers were
listed as James Jones, Dan Edge, Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producers Mandy
Chang, Hayley Reynolds, Mark Edwards, Sandra Whipham and Rebecca Litchenfeld.

Aside from Jones
and Sarbil, other production hands were identified as Michael Harte (editor)
and Uno Helmersson (music).

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