It’s been six years since singer Whitney Houston suddenly passed away, shocking the music world just days before the Grammys. Since then, several filmmakers have been clamoring to tell the story of her life, but only one film has been officially authorized by Houston’s family.
In Whitney, director Kevin Macdonald documents Houston’s life through never-before-seen video clips of the singer, candid interviews with her family and friends, and archival footage. According to its synopsis, the film promises to be “an intimate, unflinching portrait of Houston and her family that probes beyond familiar tabloid headlines and sheds new light on the spellbinding trajectory of Houston’s life.”
Whitney debuted at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival in a midnight screening on Wednesday and the first official U.S. trailer just hit the web.
The emotional trailer features appearances by Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, her brother, Michael Houston, Bobby Brown, as well as legendary music executives Clive Davis, Babyface, and L.A. Reid. In the three minute clip, Macdonald promises to answer all the “questions you want asked,” namely about Houston’s relationships with Brown and her longtime friend and rumored lover, Robyn Crawford.
In one moment in the trailer, someone says Crawford was Houston’s “safety net” while claiming Brown was “jealous” of Houston’s success.
“He wanted to be on the stage, he wanted to be in the forefront,” the person contends in the clip. “And eventually, she (Houston) stepped down to lift him up.”
Though Macdonald interviewed Brown for the doc, he told The Hollywood Reporter the former New Edition member is “actually is not ready to tell the truth, for whatever reason.” Crawford, on the other hand, declined to be interviewed for the film.
Drug addiction loomed large in Houston’s life and contributed to her death, but in another gripping moment from the trailer, Reid denied he knew about the singer’s struggle, despite working with her throughout the years.
“I never knew there was any addiction,” Reid says, despite the longstanding stories about both Brown and Houston’s struggle with drug abuse.
The film also aims to answer why Houston’s family did not step in before she accidentally drowned in February 2012.
In Whitney, both the filmmaker and Houston’s family hopes to finally set the record straight about the iconic singer, but Macdonald said he was not initially interested in telling Houston’s story until he talked to her agent.
“When I was first approached about it, my immediate response was that I’m not really interested in Whitney Houston. But then I did two things. I met Nicole David, her longtime agent, who was incredibly close to her. And she said to me, ‘I just don’t understand what happened, she was the most lovely girl,’ and this was someone who knew her really well. And I thought that was interesting. And then Nicole sent me this article about Whitney’s rendition of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and how that changed how the song has been understood and sung ever since” he explained.
“So I think it was the combination of thinking there’s this really interesting personal mystery, but also how this woman was a musical genius,” Macdonald continued. “She’s someone who has had such a big impact on culture but is not taken seriously.”
Whitney will hit theaters on July 6.