it’s a wholly cinematic, sensory experience, its straight-ahead reportage electrified by glaring streetlights and a panicked urban wall of sound; it would make a handsome companion piece to Filipino auteur Brillante Mendoza’s recent “Alpha, the Right to Kill,” a fictionalised Duterte-era action film that aimed for grainy docu-realism as much as Jones and Sarbil’s film trades in more sleekly immersive atmospherics.

Production values here are so dazzlingly high that, for entire sequences at a time, riveted viewers may forget to wonder just how Jones and Sarbil managed to force a camera into the fray. Sarbil, a gifted cameraman who won a cinematography Emmy for his and Jones’s 2017 Frontline episode on Mosul, shoots the nighttime raids with a hot, athletic immediacy that the aforementioned Mendoza (or even Michael Mann) would covet in a fictional context
— Guy Lodge - VARIETY
Shot with the stark precision and chiaroscuro tones of a Michael Mann film, James Jones and Olivier Sarbil’s On The President’s Orders would be one of the most harrowing escapist thrillers of the year if it weren’t for the sombre realisation that the horror captured is entirely, apocalyptically real.
— Jason Gorber - POV


On The President's Orders

The searing story of President Duterte's bloody campaign against drug dealers and addicts in the Philippines, told with unprecedented and intimate access to both sides of the war - the Manila police, and an ordinary family from the slum. 

Shot in the style of a thriller, this observational film combines the look and feel of a narrative feature film with a real life revelatory journalistic investigation into a campaign of killings. 

The film uncovers a murky world where crime, drugs and politics meet in a deathly embrace - and reveal that although the police have been publicly ordered to stop extra-judicial killings, the deaths continue.

On The President’s Orders is a Frontline PBS and ARTE production in association with Mongoose Pictures, BBC Storyville and the DocSociety.





-Roger Ebert




Filmed and Directed by Olivier Sarbil
Produced and Directed by James Jones
Produced by Dan Edge & Raney Aronson-Rath
Edited by Michael Harte
Production Managed by Philippa Lacey
Music composed by Uno Helmersson