A new documentary on the life of Imelda Marcos titled “The Kingmaker” showed the disturbing views of the former first lady on Philippine politics and how she was instrumental in bringing her clan back to the political arena amid their many crimes against the country.
US-based director Lauren Greenfield led this project that premiered at a film festival in Venice last August. “The Kingmaker” will be released in cinemas in the United States this October.
The Variety writer Peter Debruge described the film as a revelation of Marcos’ “delusions of grandeur.”
“Now, back from exile, the disgraced former first lady is fully invested in reclaiming her family’s position atop a country whose coffers they once pillaged, attempting to bend democracy and boost her son, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., to power.”
Aside from Marcos, Greenfield also interviewed the detractors or the heroes of martial law to provide historical truth on the “rosier” false narrative that the Marcos clan sought to rewrite.
Debruge specifically described the latter part of the film as the “most chilling” when President Rodrigo Duterte played a role in fulfilling her plans.
Meanwhile, IndieWire also made a similar view on how Greenfield portrayed the dictator’s wife.
“For its first hour, ‘The Kingmaker’ is a charming and wistful portrait of the former First Lady of the Philippines, whose affluence and outsized persona once loomed large across the nation. Then it takes a more disturbing turn, as director Lauren Greenfield transforms an absorbing look at the life and legacy of Imelda Marcos into a reminder of the many crimes at the center of her family’s fascist rule,” writer Erik Kohn wrote.
‘A shocking comeback’
According to Screen Daily, Greenfield collaborated with Marcos and her family and admitted she was shocked for how healthy she was at her age.
“When she was first lady, she says she would sleep two or three hours a night. She says nothing makes her tired except for depressing news on TV,” she said in the article.
Greenfield is known for her documentaries “Generation Wealth” and “Queen of Versailles.” The new movie would be her first foray into stories involving politics.
Having chronicled the lives of wealthy families around the world, the filmmaker shared that she found the Marcoses have their peculiarity in how they see wealth and power.
“It’s not so much about the lifestyle. It is more about politics and power. For me, the ‘follow the money’ part of the story was about how they were able to keep the money they had amassed during the dictatorship and how they were able to use it to get back into power,” Greenfield said.
Aside from Greenfield, the names of the rest of the crew are Lars Skree, Shana Hagan. The editor was Per K. Kirkegaard while the one in-charge of music was Jocelyn Pook.
A successful comeback
After the 21-year rule, members of the Marcos family were forced into exile abroad by a historic public demonstration known as the People Power Revolution in 1986.
The dictator’s wife during their heydays in the 1970s and 1980s was known as the “Iron Butterfly” due to her “delicate and ruthless disposition.”
She still carried this reputation on her persistence to have a position in politics following her family’s return to the Philippines in 1991.
She immediately ran for president a year after. However, she lost to Fidel Ramos, who served as a general during the Marcos regime before he became one of the leaders of the uprising.
Imelda’s son Bongbong Marcos, meanwhile, ran and won as a congressman in the Second District of Ilocos Norte.
He became the first Marcos to hold a government position again just a few years after the bloody dictatorship was over.
She eventually followed suit in 1995 when became a congresswoman for the First District of Leyte.
Three years later, Bongbong became the governor of Ilocos Norte while her daughter Imee became the representative of the Second District of Ilocos Norte.
They gained more support and influence in their bailiwick Ilocos Norte through the years in the leadup to Bongbong congressional post and eventual winning senatorial run in 2010.
The family eventually became allies with President Rodrigo Duterte, successfully advancing their political hold. In 2016, with the support of the president, the corpse of the former dictator was ordered buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery despite protests.
Imee was recently elected senator of the Philippines while Bongbong nearly won the vice presidential race in 2016.