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The Queen of Versailles

Q&A with Producer Danielle Renfrew Behrens Oct 2 7PM ONLY

The Queen of Versailles

The largest private home in America is Biltmore, the former Vanderbilt estate in Asheville, N.C., which is now filled with tourists. A recent competitor for that honor was a 90,000-square-foot structure in Orlando, Fla., but construction was halted before the home could be filled with monsters.

Those monsters are the super-rich Siegel family, whom we meet in the slyly funny smackdown documentary “The Queen of Versailles.” Patriarch David is the septuagenarian owner of the most aggressively marketed time-share company in the world. Wife Jackie is a fortyish ex-model with fake boobs and a compulsion to shop. Scattered around a house that they've outgrown are seven spoiled kids, one refreshingly cynical stepdaughter, countless pooping pets and an army of immigrants to clean up the messes.

Director Lauren Greenfield first approached the family for a documentary about the building of their new home, a mock-palace patterned after Versailles that would triple their space and place them in the record book. But in the midst of the project, the American economy collapsed and the Siegels went (relatively) broke. Suddenly a movie that drew lines for the class war and playfully lobbed a cream pie at the plutocrats had to treat some unexpected casualties.

As the palace gets put on the auction block, Jackie is forced to forgo luxuries like a limousine to drive her to McDonald's. David is faced with selling his headquarters at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, where his salesmen arm-twisted vacationing suckers into signing lifelong commitments.

With the Siegels' bootstrap backstories, the film is not quite the hatchet job that David's lawsuit against the director would suggest, and it's even likely that many reality-TV fans will relate to the couple's trashy aspirations. But when David brags that he singlehandedly stole an election for George W. Bush and helped inflate the bubble that led to this mess in the first place, the Siegels move to the back of the sympathy line, behind the middle-class customers they fleeced — let alone the family's Filipino housemaid, who hasn't seen her family in 20 years.

Although it's a guilty pleasure, “The Queen of Versailles” is artful enough that both the prosecution and the defense could invoke it when the peasants cry “Off with their heads!”

— J. Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Queen of Versailles

Mon October 1, 2012, 7:00 & 9:15, Muenzinger Auditorium

USA, 2012, in English • official site

recommend

Tickets

10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.

Parking

Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.

RTD Bus

Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

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(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

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Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

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