Whitney: Oscar-Winner Kevin Macdoanld Docu about Legendary Singer

Oscar winning Scottish director Kevin Macdonald, who had long been working on a project centered around the singer known as “The Voice,”  has helmed a film about singer Whitney Houston.

Houston, who passed away in 2012, was known as one of the music industry’s most naturally talented and successful artists – with an estimated 200 million records sold worldwide and the only singer to have enjoyed seven consecutive no. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits. Proving her crossover appeal, she had an acclaimed starring role in 1992’s The Bodyguard, which would win her a Grammy and still remains one of the biggest-selling soundtracks of all time.

But while Houston’s career influenced a generation of female performers, the star also had widely-known personal struggles, including a turbulent 15-year marriage to Bobby Brown and a long-history of drug addiction and abuse, which would culminate in her being found unconscious in a bathtub in the Beverly Hilton Hotel and later pronounced dead at the age of 48.

The “unvarnished and authentic” story, set to “examine both the highs and lows of her dramatic career,” is reportedly the only documentary to have been officially authorized by Houston’s estate since her death.

Macdonald – who won an Oscar in 2000 for One Day in September, also directed The Last King of Scotland and underlined his music doc credentials with 2012’s critically acclaimed Marley – worked on the Houston project with fellow Oscar-winning producer Simon Chinn, behind both Man on Wire and Searching for Sugar Man. Chinn and his Emmy-winning cousin Jonathan Chinn (Fantastic Lies, American High) are producing the doc under their Lightbox Media banner, having partnered with multi-Emmy nominated Lisa Erspamer (Running From Crazy).

Among the figures interviewed are Clive Davis, founder and president of Arista Record and currently chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment. Davis helped bring Houston to prominence, having first seen her perform in New York in 1983. Friends, family and collaborators are also set to tell their side of the story, helping reveal a woman who was “both blessed and cursed with perhaps the greatest natural ability of any pop star in history,” while never-before-seen footage will chart her whole life from her church’s gospel choir to her tragic death, alongside exclusive demo recordings, rare performances and audio archive.

“The story that’s never told about Whitney is just how brilliant she was as artist–by many measures she had the greatest voice of the last 50 years,” said Macdonald. “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.”

The filmmaker asserted that he hadn’t “shied away from the darker parts of Whitney’s life,” including her descent into addiction.  “I want audiences to walk out of the cinema and feel positive about Whitney and her music,” he added. “I want to reveal a woman that even her most die-hard fans never knew; and a woman those new to her life and music will never forget.”

Altitude, the British banner that scored a hit with Asif Kapadia’s Amy, which became the highest-grossing British docu of all time, making more than $5.5 million at the local box office.  It has also secured U.K. rights to the Houston docu and hopes the film emulates Amy‘s record-breaking success when it releases it under its Altitude Film Distribution arm.

Will Clarke, chair and co-CEO of Altitude, said: “Whitney’s story, brought to screen by Kevin Macdonald and this producing team, make for a truly compelling theatrical event for audiences worldwide.”