Movies & TV

The Kingmaker Documentary Exposes the Unapologetic Opulence of Imelda Marcos

Imelda Marcos exposes Imelda Marcos in this new documentary on the former first lady.
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Thiry-three years since the People Power revolution that toppled the dictatorship of former President Ferdinand Marcos, the family of the late strongman has managed to stay in the limelight despite their continuing notoriety.

Once dismissed as a fallen dynasty, the Marcos family has regained power and influence over the years, most recently after Marcos’ eldest daughter, Imee Marcos, was elected Senator of the Republic. Despite the backlash and corruption cases the family continues to face, the clan matriarch remains as unyielding and unapologetic as ever.

In the Showtime documentary The Kingmaker, Imelda Marcos takes center stage as the documentary analyzes and examines her lavish lifestyle. It’s a never-before-seen intimate look at Imelda’s psyche, which rewrites history according to her own narrative.

In her own words, “Perception is real, and the truth is not.”

It’s a comeback story no one expected or hoped for, told from the words of the Madame herself. And from the looks of the trailer, it’s Imelda Marcos who exposes Imelda Marcos. 

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Shots cut from Imelda’s gold-encrusted living room to the slums of Manila, followed by the former first lady saying, “I have to dress up and make myself beautiful because the poor always look for a star in the dark of the night.” To her, her excessiveness—which includes 3,000 pairs of shoes, imported African animals, Picassos, and Michelangelos—is “mothering.” 

Other shocking moments from the trailer include her defense against accusations that she had anything to do with Ninoy Aquino’s assassination. To that, she said, “Why would I do that? I have nothing against him. Except he talked too much.”

While the title, The Kingmaker, refers to Imelda, the kings in question are none other than former President Ferdinand Marcos and current President Rodrigo Duterte, who the Marcos family backed during the 2016 elections. The Kingmaker sets itself apart from other Marcos documentaries by placing the first lady in the context of the divisive political climate we see today. It's a curious angle, but one we're excited to see. 

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The documentary is directed by Lauren Greenfield, who is best known for her work on Generation Wealth and The Queen of Versailles, both of which also explored the exorbitant wealth of individuals. The Kingmaker premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and has already garnered nominations for the Grierson Award at the London Film Festival and the Checkpoints Award at the Bergen International Film Festival. There’s even buzz that it could be a frontrunner for the best documentary at the Academy Awards 2020. 

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The reviews are already in, and most are positive, so this is definitely on our to-watch list. The Kingmaker is currently slated for a two-city theater release on November 8 in New York City and Los Angeles, with plans to air on television in 2020. 

Another documentary on Imelda Marcos was released in 2003 and received critical acclaim locally and abroad. The former first lady attempted to have it banned, but when the injuction was lifted, the film became a smash hit in theaters. 

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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