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Category: The Queen of Versailles

Sundance 2012: Magnolia gets 'Queen of Versailles' in 2nd fest deal

January 20, 2012 |  3:52 pm

Magnolia buys "The Queen of Versailles"

In the second sale on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival — and, like the deal for "Searching for Sugar Man," another pact for a documentary— Magnolia Pictures has bought North American theatrical rights to the Lauren Greenfield documentary "The Queen of Versailles."

The movie follows developer David Siegel, his wife, Jackie, and their family as the Siegels build a 90,000-square-foot Florida home modeled after the palace outside of Paris. Greenfield, best known as a photographer of adolescent girls, previously directed "Thin" and "Kids + Money." The film's description in Sundance press materials generated a lawsuit by Siegel, the president and chief executive of Westgate Resorts, saying that the Sundance blurb defamed him. But what he says in the movie may contradict what he claims in the lawsuit.

" 'The Queen of Versailles' brilliantly encapsulates the salient issues of the American economic downturn, while also being one of the most jaw-droppingly entertaining films I’ve seen in a very long time,” Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles said in a statement. “Lauren Greenfield is an exceptionally talented filmmaker with a wonderfully humanistic touch, and she has found a truly magnetic, charismatic star in Jackie Siegel.”

Terms of the deal were not announced.


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— John Horn

Photo: Jackie Siegel in "The Queen of Versailles." Credit: Lauren Greenfield.



Subject of Sundance documentary sues over 'defamatory' festival blurb

January 11, 2012 |  3:58 pm

Queen of Versailles
The subject of a real estate documentary premiering at next week’s Sundance Film Festival has sued the festival presenters and the director and producer of the film, claiming that publicity materials describing “The Queen of Versailles” defamed him.
“Queen of Versailles” follows developer David Siegel and his family in Orlando, Fla., as they build a 90,000-square-foot home modeled after the palace outside of Paris.
Siegel, president and chief executive officer of Westgate Resorts Ltd., said in a lawsuit filed in Florida on Tuesday that the initial Sundance summary provided to the media for “Queen of Versailles”  falsely stated that Siegel’s timeshare business “collapsed,” that his home was “foreclosed” on and that he ended up destitute, as his life was called a “rags-to-riches-to-rags” story.
Sundance revised the film’s summary after Siegel’s complaints. But the older version of the plot description appeared on more than 12,000 websites, the suit alleges, and the “rags” line was not redacted. Consequently, Siegel and Westgate’s reputation were damaged, the suit says. “The average reader would think he was broke,” said Siegel’s lawyer, Michael Marder. “Westgate is a stable and profitable company.”
The $75,000 defamation action names as defendants the Sundance Institute; the film’s director, Lauren Greenfield; and her husband, producer Frank Evers.
Marder said the movie’s plot summary is especially problematic in Park City, Utah, where the festival opens Jan. 19, as Westgate operates a timeshare property at one of the mountain resort’s ski areas. “We’ve had people wondering if the doors are shutting,” Marder said. “It can’t hit any closer to home.”
The lawsuit says Greenfield, who directed the eating-disorder documentary “Thin,” and her crew also enjoyed about 165 free room nights in Siegel’s resorts and stayed in his personal home.
Marder said neither he nor Siegel have seen the film, but Marder said he was not suing over a longer description of the film in the festival’s official film guide. The film is scheduled to screen in Park City on the festival’s opening day.
A spokesperson for the filmmakers declined to comment. The Sundance Institute said in a statement that it "maintains its long-held and firm commitment to freedom of expression and looks forward to screening this film by an award-winning filmmaker at the opening of Sundance Film Festival 2012."


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--John Horn

Photo: "The Queen of Versailles." Credit: Lauren Greenfield


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