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Whitney: Can I Be Me filmmaker talks persistence and Whitney Houston’s double life


Pascal Le Segretain/Getty ImagesPreviously in danger of being canceled, an unauthorized Whitney Houston documentary — titled Whitney: Can I Be Me — will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York next Wednesday. 

The film’s director, Nick Broomfield, who also directed the 2002 documentary Biggie & Tupac, tells The Hollywood Reporter why Houston’s “aggressive” estate didn’t deter him from completing the documentary. 

He says, “They sent emails to people telling them not to take part. We didn’t want to do anything to upset them — that was never the intention. I just ignored what the estate was doing, and there were a lot of people who wanted to talk to me. You carry on and make the story that you find most compelling.”   

Broomfield also tells the publication what he uncovered regarding the discrepancies between Whitney’s personal life and her larger-than-life celebrity persona, which as he recalls was “pretty heartbreaking.” 

As he explains, “It’s very different for a black artist coming out of Newark [N.J.] than, say, Mick Jagger, who doesn’t have a massive entourage of people who depend on him.”

Broomfield explains, “She had all of these people who did, whether she was performing or not, right to the end, which was really why her $250 million fortune disappeared to nothing.” 

He adds, “She was a generous person, but that was a big drain.” 

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