The Queen of Versailles

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The Queen of Versailles
Directed byLauren Greenfield
Produced byLauren Greenfield
Danielle Renfrew Behrens
StarringDavid and Jackie Siegel
Music byJeff Beal
CinematographyTom Hurwitz
Editing byVictor Livingston
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Evergreen Pictures
Release dates
  • January 19, 2012 (2012-01-19) (Sundance)
  • July 20, 2012 (2012-07-20) (United States)
Running time100 minutes (also 55 minutes version exists)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$2,401,999
 
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The Queen of Versailles
Directed byLauren Greenfield
Produced byLauren Greenfield
Danielle Renfrew Behrens
StarringDavid and Jackie Siegel
Music byJeff Beal
CinematographyTom Hurwitz
Editing byVictor Livingston
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Evergreen Pictures
Release dates
  • January 19, 2012 (2012-01-19) (Sundance)
  • July 20, 2012 (2012-07-20) (United States)
Running time100 minutes (also 55 minutes version exists)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$2,401,999

The Queen of Versailles is a 2012 American documentary film by Lauren Greenfield. The film depicts Jackie and David Siegel, owners of Westgate Resorts, and their family as they build the Versailles house, the largest and most expensive single-family house in the United States, and the crisis they face as the U.S. economy declines.

The documentary won the U.S. Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival,[1] the Grand Jury Prize from the Brisbane International Film Festival,[2] a Best Director Award from the RiverRun Film Festival,[3] and the Special Jury Documentary Feature prize from the deadCenter Film Festival.[4] "The Queen of Versailles" was also nominated for Best Documentary Film, 2012, by the International Documentary Association (IDA).[5] It was broadcast on BBC Four as part of the Storyville series.[6]

Reception[edit]

The film has met strong critical approval, earning a score of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes (95 of 100 reviews being positive), with an average score of 8/10 and the consensus statement, "The Queen of Versailles is a timely, engaging, and richly drawn portrait of the American Dream improbably composed of equal parts compassion and schadenfreude."[7]

Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein called it "perhaps the single best film on the Great Recession", writing that one scene, in which Siegel recounts a series of transactions that allowed him to purchase at a fraction of its original value a loan on which he owes money, "might stand as the single most complete vignette on the mechanics of the financial crisis and the subsequent slow recovery."[8] In a review of the film, The Economist called it "an uncomfortably intimate glimpse of a couple’s struggle with a harsh new reality," concluding that "the film’s great achievement is that it invites both compassion and Schadenfreude. What could have been merely a silly send-up manages to be a meditation on marriage and a metaphor for the fragility of fortunes, big and small."[9]

Lawsuit[edit]

In January 2012, before the film's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, David Siegel filed a civil action based on the way the film had been described in promotional materials.[10][11]

On January 24, 2013, the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, stayed the suit pending arbitration.[12][13] Siegel claimed Greenfield had not obtained a proper release from the subjects of the film, in particular David Siegel and Westgate Resorts. In staying the lawsuit, Judge Anne C. Conway found David Siegel's testimony to be "inconsistent and incredible and thus lacking weight."[14] She disagreed with Siegel's position, which she deemed to be "quite bizarre" in light of his subsequent conduct.[12][13] Directing that the case be administratively closed, Conway ordered the defendants to file and serve, on or before May 1, 2013, and every three months thereafter, a status report regarding the arbitration proceedings.[13][15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lauren Greenfield Wins top Directing honors at Sundance". 
  2. ^ "Lauren Greenfield Wins 2012 BIFFDOCS Competition". 
  3. ^ "Lauren Greenfield awarded Best Director, Documentary Feature by RiverRun Film Festival". 
  4. ^ ""The Queen of Versailles" wins Special Jury Documentary Feature from deadCenter Film Festival, June 2012". 
  5. ^ ""The Queen of Versailles" nominated for Best Documentary Feature, 2012 by the IDA". 
  6. ^ "Storyville: The Queen Of Versailles". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Queen of Versailles". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Klein, Ezra. "‘The Queen of Versailles’: the best film on the Great Recession". The Washington Post Wonkblog. Retrieved 31 December 2012. "“The Queen of Versailles” began as a documentary about a time-share billionaire, his ditzy wife, and their grotesque quest to build the largest house in the United States of America. It ended as perhaps the single best film on the Great Recession ..." 
  9. ^ "All fall down: A riches-to-rags story in America". The Economist. 25 August 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  10. ^ Brooks Barnes (2012-01-20). "Documentary Footage Raises Questions About Lawsuit". The Carpetbagger (blog). New York Times. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  11. ^ Kurt Orzeck (2012-01-11). "Sundance sued over opening-day documentary". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  12. ^ a b Eriq Gardner (2013-01-25). "'Queen of Versailles' Filmmaker Wins Key Ruling in Defamation Fight". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  13. ^ a b c "Westgate Resorts, Ltd. v. Lauren Greenfield, Frank Evers and Greenfield/Evers LLC". 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  14. ^ Sara K. Clarke (2013-01-28). "'Queen of Versailles' lawsuit headed for arbitration". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  15. ^ Deshayla Strachan (2013-01-29). "'Queen of Versailles' Spat Heads to Arbitration". Entertainment Law Digest. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 

External links[edit]