I am honored to be credited as Consulting Producer on The Kingmaker, the latest documentary by award-winning U.S. director Lauren Greenfield which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival on Aug 30 and has also been shown at the Telluride and Toronto festivals ahead of its London Film Festival debut on Oct 7.
The Kingmaker team at Telluride International Film Festival (l to r): William Mellor, Producer Frank Evers, Director Lauren Greenfield, Co-Producer Jennifer Kobzik and Film Editor Per K. Kirkegaard
The film is about Imelda Marcos, widow of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand, and her efforts to restore the dynasty to power through her son, Bongbong, a close ally and possible successor to President Rodrigo Duterte. Lauren decided to focus her cameras on the bejeweled, extravagantly-shod former First Lady after reading a feature article I wrote in 2013 for Bloomberg on one of the more bizarre legacies of the Marcos regime – the remote island of Calauit, where in 1976, Ferdinand and Imelda evicted the impoverished inhabitants to make way for a menagerie of African animals.
Lauren kindly invited me to join her crew. Four extraordinary years later, after numerous trips to the Philippines and many more encounters with Imelda, Bongbong and other normally media-averse Marcos family members, Lauren has created a powerful and highly topical film that goes far beyond my original story to cover not only the horrors of the Marcos martial law years, but also those of Duterte’s war on drugs and, of course, the political machinations in Manila today as the Marcoses, with Duterte’s backing, seek to regain control of the country they fled after the 1986 People Power uprising.
Throughout the filming, Lauren led from the front – right down to our overnight forays into the slums to film the latest crop of corpses from the drug war and interview the widows and orphans left behind.
Since its debut in Venice, The Kingmaker has received glowing reviews from critics. It will have a cinema release later this year ahead of its television premiere on Showtime network early in 2020.