Lauren Greenfield’s ‘The Kingmaker’ examines extravagance, influence of Imelda Marcos

"The Kingmaker"
Imelda Marcos on her 85th birthday in “The Kingmaker.”
(Lauren Greenfield / Showtime)

Filmmaker and photographer Lauren Greenfield has spent much of her career exploring wealth and extravagance. The “Generation Wealth” and “The Queen of Versailles” director is known for her consistent coverage of greed and consumerism, making her latest documentary, “The Kingmaker,” a sensible choice for her next film. It examines the controversial former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos.

“I thought it was going to be about this historic extravagance,” Greenfield says. “And what happened is, the story came rushing into the present with a political comeback of the Marcos.”

In this week’s episode of “The Reel,” host Mark Olsen sits down with Greenfield to discuss how she ended up in a room with Imelda Marcos as the subject of her new documentary.


Lauren Greenfield talks to Imelda Marcos while making "The Kingmaker."
(Showtime Documentary Films)

“Imelda Marcos was always an iconic reference in my work,” Greenfield tells Olsen. “But I never thought I would have the chance to actually meet her.”

The now-90-year-old politician has become recognized for her extravagant collection of 3,000 pairs of shoes, assortment of Picasso paintings, and as you’ll see in the documentary, wads of cash on hand. But she’s also the wife of former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Together, they’re widely speculated to have illegally accumulated their multibillion-dollar fortune.

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“She was really different than anybody I had ever covered because of the political aspect. She’s a first lady, and really more than a first lady because she was such a powerful political player in her own right,” Greenfield said. “She’s a master spinner of media and of her self-image. Part of the content of the story ended up being the way she rewrites history, and very successfully.”

Listen to the full interview with Greenfield to not only learn about Imelda Marcos as a person, but about her widespread influence over the Philippines. The documentary opens Friday in select theaters.

Check out other episodes of “The Reel” here