Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald will helm a documentary about Whitney Houston that has been authorized by the singer’s estate since her death in 2012.
Per a statement, the as-yet-untitled film will offer the “unvarnished and authentic” story of Houston’s life, from her early days singing in her church’s gospel choir to her astounding success as a global pop star, which included a string of seven straight Billboard Hot 100 Number Ones. The film will include interviews with Houston’s friends, family and collaborators, including famed record executive Clive Davis, who helped launch the singer’s career. It will also feature never-before-seen footage of Houston, as well as demo recordings and rare performances from her archives.
“The story that is never told about Whitney is just how brilliant she was as an artist; by many measures, she had the greatest voice of the last 50 years,” Macdonald said. “She changed the way pop music was sung — bringing it back full circle to its blues and gospel roots. She was also completely unique in being a black pop star who sold in countries where black artists don’t traditionally sell.”
But Macdonald added the film would not “shy away from the darker parts of Whitney’s life,” including her tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown and struggles with drug abuse and addiction. Houston died in 2012 with an autopsy report naming accidental drowning as the cause of death, though cocaine use and a heart condition were listed as contributing factors.
While Macdonald’s film has the blessing of Houston’s estate, it’s not the only documentary in the works about the singer. Filmmaker Nick Broomfield — known for his controversial documentaries like Kurt and Courtney and Biggie and Tupac — is also helming a film about Houston for BBC Two that “goes in search of the forces that made and then destroyed the singer.” A spokesperson for Houston’s family, however, told Rolling Stone the estate had “no involvement in this program whatsoever.”
Macdonald’s Houston documentary will be pitched to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival next month by Altitude Films. The production company also handled the heralded 2015 Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy.
As for Macdonald, the filmmaker took home the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2000 for One Day in September about the attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. His other credits include the 2012 Bob Marley documentary, Marley, as well as The Last King of Scotland, for which Forest Whitaker won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin. Macdonald most recently directed the first episode of the J.J. Abrams-produced mini-series, 11.22.63, starring James Franco and based on the Stephen King book of the same name.