The Kingmaker

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

5/5 (1)

How many shoes do you have? Not as many as Imelda Marcos. But then you’re not a shoe-size-7 powerbroker whose husband used to run the Philippines and whose son recently served as a senator in that far-flung country.

Much of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr.’s rise to power has been Imelda’s doing.

Thanks, mom.

Bongbong – the second child and only son of former President and dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos – barely lost a race for Vice President of the Philippines in 2016. He aspires to be President.

A new documentary titled “Kingmaker” takes a close-up look at the former first lady of the Philippines. Kingmakers are persons who have great influence on a political succession, without themselves being a viable candidate.

Here, Imelda Marcos tells the story in her own words, explaining her behind-the-scenes manipulation of the political process for her family’s benefit. We learn more about Bongbong and his sister Imee’s alliance with current Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte to secure political power.

Written and directed by Lauren Greenfield, , “Kingmaker” uses Imelda’s own words to tell the story. Because Imelda proves to be an unreliable narrator, the former first lady’s one-sided story is balanced by the film’s gradual introduction of opposing viewpoints.

Particularly fascinating is the contrasting views on Ferdinand Marcos’s use of torture, words by Imelda versus differing memories by actual torture victims like Commission on Human Rights Etta Rosales.

“Kingmaker” is showing tonight as the latest entry in Tropic Cinema’s Cinematheque Series.

The documentary is divided into two parts: The first chronicling Imelda’s life from the time she became First Lady in 1965 to the point when her husband was deposed in 1986. The second part focuses on her family’s political comeback.

Lauren Greenfield observes, “She’s a narcissist. I think she does believe her own story, but the self-serving, strategic story, too. I think that in the past, people have made the mistake of thinking she’s delusional, and she kind of puts that out there, but I think it’s very strategic. She says early on in the film, ‘People underestimate women, and sometimes that’s useful.’ I think people have underestimated her, and that’s made her only the more powerful and successful.”

Much has been made over Imelda’s opulent lifestyle and her love of shoes. It’s said she left behind 1,220 pairs when she fled the Philippines with her husband.

In Lauren Greenfield’s award-winning documentary, you will come to know Imelda Marcos’s dark truths. Is it an accurate portrayal? You might say, the shoe fits.

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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