The Kingmaker


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The Kingmaker
"Greenfield keeps tight control, allowing Marcos to say what she wants, while busily illustrating the opposing perspective." | Photo: Lauren Greenfield

"Perception is real. The truth is not," says Imelda Marcos towards this end of this, by turns, fascinating and frightening documentary by Lauren Greenfield.

It could be the disturbing slogan for our age, when 'fake news' seems to take precedence over the real deal and politicians lie as easily as breathing in the hope that people's warm and fuzzy perception of them will be more important than anything so complicated as the truth.

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In the case of the former First Lady of the Philippines, it could also refer to Marcos' perception of herself - a regard, presumably, so high that she didn't think twice about agreeing to being followed around by Greenfield's camera. In the eyes of Marcos, she was a mother to a nation in, though, she never mentions it, the Eva Peron mode, a woman whose largesse knew no bounds and whose diplomacy skills - she's oddly fixated with Chairman Mao - were second to none.

Although her family was ousted from power in 1986 and husband Ferdinand died three years later, she is now back in her homeland, has been elected to congress herself and is busy grooming her son BongBong for power and, in perhaps the cruellest cut of all to the populace, using money originally fleeced from the country's coffers to do it.

Greenfield's documentary is deftly edited to combine a profile of former first lady of the Philippines with voices putting the other side of the story of the effect she and her husband had on their country. If Marcos, surrounded by a similar sort of ostentatious opulence Greenfield skewered in The Queen Of Versailles, views herself as a sort of fairy godmother figure, the activists, tortured and raped under the Marcos' Martial Law period tell a different story. Her follies and lack of self-awareness are perhaps best illustrated by the way she imported zebras and giraffes from Kenya - itself a story of grease-palmed corruption - and let them roam free on Caluit Island, just as soon as she'd displaced the local residents.

She might lament "I miss the clout", but it seems that money talks for Marcos and the lengths she seems prepared to go to regain it - which see her story become entwined with that of the country's highly controversial current president Rodrigo Duterte -are extensive. Greenfield keeps tight control, allowing Marcos to say what she wants, while busily illustrating the opposing perspective as the film itself gradually moves from a profile of a person to a more worrying consideration of a state of a nation and the dangers of dynasty politics.

Reviewed on: 12 Dec 2019
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The Kingmaker packshot
Documentary about the Marcos family and Imelda's continued influence on politics in the Philippines.
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Director: Lauren Greenfield

Writer: Lauren Greenfield

Starring: Imelda Marcos

Year: 2019

Runtime: 101 minutes

Country: US

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