‘Queen of Versailles’ introduces her new documentary ‘Princess of Versailles’
Jacqueline Siegel, the subject of Lauren Greenfield’s award-winning 2012 Sundance Film Festival documentary “Queen of Versailles” and a part-time Parkite, has made a new film, “Princess of Versailles,” though those interested in the next chapter of the Siegels’ story may have to wait to see it.
The film, shot by first-time filmmaker Cinnamon Monteville and Siegel, is a follow-up to Greenfield’s tale of Siegel and her husband David’s interrupted quest to build “Versailles,” the biggest and most expensive house in the United States.
“Princess of Versailles” takes on a different story. It’s about how the Siegels rose from the 2015 overdose death of their daughter Victoria to embark on a mission to save the lives of others who struggle with opioid addiction.
Monteville and Siegel submitted “Princess of Versailles” to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, but it wasn’t accepted.
“I didn’t expect it to get any award, but I thought it would be interesting because of the topic,” Siegel said. “I feel bad it won’t be shared, so we’re trying to figure out what to do next.”
Siegel is considering contacting digital distributors like Netflix and Hulu, as well as submitting it to other film festivals. For information, about the film, visit therealqueenofversailles.com.
Spurred by media coverage she felt was unfair to her late daughter, Siegel wanted a chance to tell the story on her family’s terms.
“When my daughter died, the news was all over the headlines, and it was so negative,” Siegel said. “Some headlines read ‘Doomed Princess’ and people on social media wrote that ‘rich people deserved this.’ I was so traumatized and the last thing on my mind was to talk with the press.”
Siegel, however, soon found solace in the fact that her family wasn’t alone.
There were nearly 71,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Since the news about my daughter’s death was all over, when I would go to charity events, many people in attendance would come up and talk with me about their situations,” she said. “We consoled each other.”
These experiences spurred the Siegels to start the Victoria’s Voice Foundation (victoriasiegelfoundation.org), a nonprofit that seeks to help reduce drug overdoses, encourage experimentation through legislation to encourage locking up prescription medications, advocate for the co-prescription of naloxone every time an opioid painkiller is prescribed, and implementation of a policy platform for random drug testing in partnership with educational institutions, Siegel said.
One of the films’ scenes shows Siegel’s husband David speaking at a congressional hearing in Washington.
“David was pissed off because there were only three congressional representatives in the seven seats,” Siegel said. “There were all of these people getting to crying about their lost sons and daughters, and my husband was mad that more representatives weren’t there. So he gave them a piece of his mind.”
The Siegels are pushing to get naloxone into the hands of every first responder in the country.
Naloxone, administered through a nasal spray, temporarily reverses the effects of opioids so first responders can determine what and how much of the drug was ingested and treat the victim, Siegel said.
“We believe if the first responders had access to naloxone when they found our daughter, she would most likely be live today,” she said.
The Siegel’s campaign has yielded results in Orlando, Florida, the Siegels’ hometown. All of Orange County’s sheriff’s deputies are issued naloxone.
“The sheriff told me they use it every single day,” Siegel said. “That means we have saved well over 100 lives.”
In addition, Siegel has updated her book, “Victoria’s Voice: Speaking Out About Drug Addiction.” The revised title is “Victoria’s Voice: Our Daughter’s Dying Wish to Share Her Diary and Save Lives from Drugs,” which will be available on March 1. The book is currently available for preorder at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, Siegel said.
“We made it into a book within a book,” she said. “We have what we wrote on white pages and then we have Victoria’s original, unedited diary on off-white yellow pages.”
To make “Princess of Versailles,” Monteville followed Siegel for a year and a half.
“I had done a show called the ‘Fireball Run’ for Amazon three months after my daughter died, and I met Cinnamon who followed me around with a camera,” Siegel said. “We became friends and I asked her to follow me around for the next year to get some footage.”
Siegel knows making a successor to “Queen of Versailles” may appear strange, considering the family sued Greenfield for defamation after her film was released.
The Siegels had felt Greenfield portrayed them in a bad light, but the suit was eventually settled with the Siegels paying Greenfield $750,000 in legal fees.
“I would have loved to do something sooner, like a TV show because wherever I go in the world, because of ‘Queen of Versailles,’ people want to know what happened to our family and our house. They also want to know about our daughter who died after the film was released, so I decided to do this.”
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