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THE KINGMAKER

Synopsis

Centered on the indomitable character of Imelda Marcos, THE KINGMAKER examines, with intimate access, the Marcos family’s improbable return to power in the Philippines. The film explores the disturbing legacy of the Marcos regime and chronicles Imelda’s present-day push to help her son, Bongbong, win the vice presidency. To this end, Imelda confidently rewrites her family’s history of corruption, replacing it with a narrative of a matriarch’s extravagant love for her country. In an age when fake news manipulates elections, Imelda’s comeback story serves as a dark fairy tale.  

The Filmmakers

Lauren Greenfield Director

Named by The New York Times as “America’s foremost visual chronicler of the plutocracy,” Emmy Award–winning filmmaker/photographer Lauren Greenfield has produced groundbreaking work on consumerism, youth culture, and gender for the last 25 years.  Her films GENERATION WEALTH, THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES, and THIN, and photography books Generation Wealth, Fast Forward, and Girl Culture have provoked international dialogue about some of the most important issues of our time. THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES was the opening night film of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Best Documentary Director Award and was named by Vogue as one of the top documentaries of all time.  Her record-breaking Super Bowl ad #LikeAGirl (250+ million views) earned her 14 Cannes Lions and the Most Awarded Director by Ad Age, making her the first woman to top this list. 

GENERATION WEALTH (Amazon Studios) opened the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, screened at Berlinale, and received a Writers Guild nomination. The companion exhibition received The Paris Photography prize, has travelled around the world, and opened summer 2019 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Copenhagen). In 2019, Greenfield launched Girl Culture Films, to address the lack of diversity of directors in the advertising industry.

In late August 2019, Greenfield released her latest documentary film, THE KINGMAKER, which is centered around the indominable and notorious Imelda Marcos (the former first Lady of the Philippines) and her quest to restore her family name and honor back to the greatness that it once enjoyed. The film debuted simultaneously at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals and was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and the BFI/London Film Festival, making it the first documentary film to ever open at these four major festivals in the same year. Showtime has secured worldwide rights and the film will be theatrically released in the US in October 2019.
 

Frank Evers Producer

Frank Evers is the founder and executive producer of Evergreen Pictures, an award-winning production company that specializes in the production of documentary films (THE KINGMAKER, GENERATION WEALTH, THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES, MAGIC CITY, BLING DYNASTY, BEAUTY CULTTURE, KIDS+MONEY, FASHION SHOW). In addition to running Evergreen Pictures, Frank is the CEO of INSTITUTE, named in 2011 by the British Journal of Photography as the 4th most prestigious photo agency in the world.

Frank is also the co-founder of the New York Photo Festival and the co-creator of The Future of Storytelling, two NY-based annual events that have attracted hundreds of thousands of  participants since 2008. Between 1995 and 2005, Frank spent ten years in the video-game business, running product development and production for Activision, Vivendi, and Disney Interactive. During this time, his video games generated over $1 billion in global sales. Frank started in the film business with Sony Pictures Entertainment, and later discovered, packaged, and financed the cult classic film, Swimming with Sharks (1994). In 2019, Evers launched Girl Culture Films with Lauren Greenfield, to address the lack of diversity of directors in the advertising industry.
 

Festivals & Awards

Venice Film Festival

2019

+ Festival Website

Telluride Film Festival

2019

If great nonfiction filmmaking involves proper preparation and then waiting for lightning to strike, director Lauren Greenfield found her thunderstorm. Greenfield, a prolific filmmaker and photographer, has spent her career documenting the upper reaches of the One Percent. She turns her camera on Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines, probable embezzler of billions of dollars, and possible architect of political assassinations. Photographed within her gilded surroundings, Marcos appears free of guilt, fashioning herself as a humanitarian savior who distributes money to the children who throng her as she moves regally through her domain. But the film patiently reveals the disturbing political machinations that swirl around her. This is journalism in perfect sync with artistic craft, with Greenfield as the ideal storyteller to chase the cyclone of the Marcos family.

- David Wilson

+ Festival Website

Toronto International Film Festival

2019

Imelda Marcos became First Lady of the Philippines in 1965 and still lives as if she possesses the role. During her husband Ferdinand Marcos' two decades as president, she was frequently the country's chief diplomat, sent abroad to meet everyone from Chairman Mao to President Reagan. Eventually, the Marcoses were ousted in 1986 under a cloud of scandal, accused of amassing billions of dollars while much of their country was impoverished as a result. Filipino protestors who swarmed triumphantly into the abandoned presidential palace discovered luxury goods in endless quantities, most famously Imelda's thousands of designer shoes.

Documentarian Lauren Greenfield has a long career chronicling the extremes of wealth in photographs and films including THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES and GENERATION WEALTH. Imelda Marcos is a natural subject for her, only with a darker and political side.

THE KINGMAKER begins in 2014 when Imelda is in her eighties, looking to restore her family back to power through her son Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, running for the vice presidency. The film weaves together past and present. Imelda is unshaken believing in her own righteousness. She defiantly poses for Greenfield's camera in a cavernous room stacked with documents from lawsuits. Her view of the world is contrasted with her opponents who testify to the Marcos regime's corruption and violence.

Over the course of filming, the Philippines elects President Rodrigo Duterte, who's been widely criticized for human rights abuses. But he and Imelda appear to have aligned interests. Whatever has been thrown against her, she has withstood. The modern history of the Philippines is inextricably bound with the legacy of this kingmaker.

- Thom Powers

+ Festival Website