VENICE, Italy – Laura Greenfield’s latest work “The Kingmaker” will premiere on Friday at the Venice International Film Festival as part of the non-competition section.
The documentary film focuses on the political career of Imelda Marcos, former First Lady of the Philippines for 21 years, known as the Iron Butterfly due to her extravagance during the rule of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
“I think she actually believes her story, you know I think she actually really believes that in some way she has this maternal benevolence and that she and her family have given to the country,” Greenfield said during a press conference ahead of the premiere.
“She definitely has her own world view of history and for me in my filmmaking I’m used to kind of going into a character’s world and showing that world.
“But I realized probably halfway through the filming, maybe a third into the filming, that the things that she was saying did not align with our accepted view of history or historians’ accounts or first person testimonials.”
Greenfield said it was the first time that she had dealt with an unreliable narrator in one of her films.
“I realized that I was going to need to bring in other points of view who could be the truth tellers and give the audience a check against her worldview,” she added.
“Because it’s a very hard and I realized in making this film that I’ve never really made a film before with an unreliable narrator.
“And it’s very hard because I think when you watch a film you believe that the filmmaker, you trust them to give you the right information.
“So it was hard for me to figure out how to tell the audience this is incorrect information and I realized that I had to kind of put them right beside each other.”
Greenfield spoke about Leni Robredo, a Filipina lawyer and social activist who is the 14th and incumbent Vice President of the Philippines.
“In terms of Leni Robredo I think that she says in the end of the film that she realizes there will be a price to pay, it is not a comfortable place to be Duterte’s opposition it’s not a place that welcomes free opposition or free press,” she said.
Imelda Marcos shared power with her husband, serving as his personal envoy on state visits and international events.
“There’s another scene where she talks about her friend Chairman Mao and her friend Saddam Hussein and how kind they are even though people think they’re monsters,” Greenfield added.
The Emmy-award winning director documented the Marcos family’s political reign and its long history of corruption through personal interviews.
She said that she feels the film has an important social message about the need to learn from past events.
“I think that the rigorous teaching of history especially to young people in a way is what we need to inoculate against fake news and manipulation,” she added.
“And then of course the free press which is not embraced in the Philippines, we need the facts and we need to understand where we came from and for democracy to be able to be sustained we need information and reliable information.”