How to Watch The Kingmaker
With all the resources available via a few taps on our phones, it's almost impossible not to know anything about the regime of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. There are peer-reviewed journals and case studies on the political economy in the '60s and '70s, personal narratives and stories of the social landscape, and films that shed light on this part of our history. On top of these, there are a lot of documentaries with first-hand interviews of people who actually lived through the Marcos years—including the Marcoses themselves, as in Lauren Greenfield's The Kingmaker. If you still haven't watched this 2019 film, you can do so now without having to download an app or register your e-mail addresses. Just head to their Vimeo link and you're good to go.
In a tweet by Greenfield on March 11, she announced that "[they] have worked out an arrangement with [their] partners ABS-CBN and iWantTFC, and are now able to share The Kingmaker with *all* of our friends in the Philippines."
The Kingmaker made its international debut in August 2019 at the 76th Venice Film Festival. It was also screened at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, the whole of United States in a limited release by Greenwich Entertainment, and through the American premium television network Showtime. The film finally made its Philippine debut in January 2020, when it was shown at the Cultural Center of the Philippines; then later at the University of the Philippines during the commemoration of the People Power's Revolution that year. The Kingmaker was released on streaming platform iWantTFC on May 15, 2020, then later became available only on-demand by August in the same year.
The Kingmaker features Greenfield's interviews with Imelda, who herself narrated how she met the late Ferdinand Marcos, how she later turned an inhabited island in Palawan into a safari after seeing the wildlife in Africa, and how she dealt with the public as the wife of a government official. She also recalled the time that she was sent to a psychiatric hospital in New York when "[she] was on the verge of a mental breakdown" because "it came to a point that [she] could not take politics." Greenfield was also able to interview Ferdinand's grandson and Bongbong's son, Sandro, who was quoted as saying "[Bongbong] wanted to do physics, maths, biology, but my grandfather was like 'There's no money in that so switch to politics.'”
Some of the documentary's clips show Bongbong's bid for vice presidency in the 2016 national elections, three years before the release of The Kingmaker. In one of the first-hand interviews with then-vice-presidential aspirant and now presidential candidate, he said that "Campaigns are fun, except for the candidate. Dealing with the public is a chore."
The film also features first-hand accounts from friends of the Marcoses as well as victims of the atrocities of the Martial Law regime, such as Pete Lacaba, Etta Rosales, and May Rodriguez.
In a 2019 Vox article titled "How to make a damning documentary about a world-class liar," Greenfield revealed that she "was just so excited to be able to talk to [Imelda] and "didn’t really have an expectation for what she would say." She later realized that "[Imelda] had a strategic narrative that was part of redeeming the name of Marcos and part of coming back to power."