The 90-year-old Imelda Marcos looks out sadly at the poverty in Manila through her car window. How different things were in the Philippines between 1965 and 1986, she says, when her husband Ferdinand Marcos was still in power. The former first lady takes out a thick wad of cash to hand out to beggars as she passes. And when she pays a visit to some young cancer patients, she produces another stack of banknotes.
Director Lauren Greenfield, who previously explored her fascination for the rich in Generation Wealth, now delves into the opulent life of the Marcos family. Imelda, a modern-day Marie Antoinette, says she wants to make the Philippines a paradise again. But where does she actually get all that money from?
While Marcos herself constantly advertises her own virtue, activists and political opponents talk about the devastating corruption in the Philippines. The contrast with Imelda’s proud, patriotic story becomes increasingly painful. The Kingmaker shows how money and power sustain each other, and how dark history repeats itself.