Spotlight: Lauren Greenfield, Director, 'The Queen of Versailles'
Lauren Greenfield’s documentary The Queen of Versailles follows a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis. The Magnolia Pictures film opens in theaters in August.
How would you describe the film?
Lauren Greenfield: The film visually documents the “American Dream”: its values and lifestyles, its relationship to home ownership, and the ways it has encouraged all Americans to reach beyond their economic means.
How did your capture this trajectory?
The film follows David and Jackie Siegel, whose rags-to-riches success stories set the stage for the ultimate realization of the “American Dream.” Throughout their journey, their extended coterie of domestic help, family members and friends from diverse class and ethnic backgrounds gives their world an “upstairs, downstairs” prism through which we gain insight into other interpretations of the “American Dream” and the universal ramifications of the financial crisis.
How would you say this film differs from your previous projects?
The Queen of Versailles is my second feature-length documentary and my fourth film, but in some ways it is the first project where the sociological and aesthetic voice of my photography is realized within the medium of film. The Queen of Versailles combines environmental portraiture in a series of interviews with cinema vérité “decisive moments.” Although I could never have predicted the turn of fortune that happened in the making of this film, the generosity and candor of the Siegel family in the process allowed me to document a human drama that is also a morality tale with lessons for us all.