The Kingmaker – Film Review
Director: Lauren Greenfield
Stars: Andres Bautista, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Imee Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986 with a regime that was renowned amongst other things for its extravagance and corruption. In his work he was more than assisted by his indomitable wife Imelda. When their regime started to collapse, they fled to the United States, where Ferdinand died in 1989. But Imelda lived on and eventually returned to the Philippines. This remarkable documentary shows her strength and determination to achieve that aim but also her continuing determination to regain the presidency of the Philippines for the Marcos family and restore the reputation of her disgraced husband.
One of her stratagems in this process is the elevation of her son Ferdinand junior affectionately known as Bongbong to the office of Vice President. She has been working tirelessly for this end as the documentary shows. The election of President Duterte in June 2016 was an important step on this path. However, Bongbong was defeated in the simultaneous vice-presidential campaign which was not part of the plan. Bongbong did not accept the result and mounted a legal challenge which is still pending before the courts.
Imelda is seen as an octogenarian constantly waited on hand and foot and as ambitious and determined now as when she was a young beauty queen. The film gives glimpses of some of the beautiful objets d’art that Ferdinand and Imelda managed to acquire during his Presidency. She claims she is very fond of beauty and beautiful things. It also shows the safari park she created in those halcyon days by means of a suitcase stuffed with notes being left on another despot’s desk. It tells how the impoverished island community where she decided to place her safari park were removed from the island.
Apart from remarkable interviews with Imelda herself where her sense of entitlement competes with her self pity, the documentary also has interviews with some of the victims of the Marcos regime. They are incredulous as to how Imelda and her family are back in the Philippines and playing such a prominent role in public life. For Imelda, their voices are all tittle tattle as she concentrates on the main task of restoring the Marcos heir Bongbong to the Presidency of the Philippines. To achieve this goal they need to win their legal challenge. It seems that President Duterte may well be helpful in this regard.
The interviews with Imelda herself are fascinating as she sits propped up in all her pomp and glory. Greenfield has done a great job. Imelda has no self doubt. For those who are old enough to remember the fall of the Marcos regime it is hard to believe that Imelda is in the powerful position that she now is. It seems she is close to achieving her aim. This is both a fascinating documentary and a depressing one, but is well worth your time.