Lauren Greenfield (The Queen of Versailles, NZIFF12) harnesses extraordinary access and the boastful, unrepentant nature of her subject, Imelda Marcos, in this unsettling chronicle of ill-gotten wealth and political corruption.
We’ve all heard about the 1,220 pairs of shoes Imelda Marcos abandoned when she fled Manila in 1986, a symbol of the wealth she and her dictator husband, Ferdinand Marcos, embezzled while running the country’s economy and human rights into the ground. Now in her 80s, the former first lady of the Philippines is still as extravagant – and impenitent – as ever. Captured like never before, this eye-opening documentary paints a damning picture of Marcos’ ego in private, and her vanity in public as she flexes her political ambitions once more through son Bongbong, a vice presidential candidate, and other insidious networks of corruption.
As astute as it is ominous, The Kingmaker examines a staggering sense of denial and self-importance that resonates today for obvious reasons, but even more potently, a history of violence that threatens to resurface. Interviews with Marcos’ allies and enemies, and reflections on the suffering of communities during martial law, reveal the horrors behind the legacy. So confident of her importance to the Philippines, Marcos believes she’s starring in a hagiography, but what director Lauren Greenfield gets on camera is much closer to The Act of Killing. — Tim Wong
“‘Perception is real, and the truth is not,’ says Marcos. She is a master of denial and image manipulation to such a degree that it feels like she believes her lies… Perhaps the most disturbing thing about The Kingmaker is that Marcos’ attempts to rewrite history seem to be working in some ways. And one could argue that image control led the country to where it is now under the [Rodrigo] Duterte regime. The story of the Marcos legacy isn’t over, but The Kingmaker is a major chapter in it, and world politics as a whole.” — Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
About the Filmmaker
Lauren Greenfield is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and photographer whose work spans consumerism, youth culture and gender. Selected filmography: Generation Wealth (2018), The Queen of Versailles (2012), Thin (2006).