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Another Whitney Houston documentary is in the works. Unlike other documentaries focusing on the singer’s life that typically chronicles her rise to fame, personal experiences with drug addiction and fame, and her marriage to Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston in Focus takes a look at the singer’s life before the cameras. In addition to the documentary, there’s an accompanying book. 

Whitney Houston smiles outside of childhood home
Whitney Houston in 1985 | Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

The new documentary puts a focus on the singer’s early days and career unlike ever before

The documentary Whitney Houston In Focus, directed by Benjamin Alfonsi, is currently in production. It shines light around the young life of Houston, as told by photographer Bette Marshall. Marshall will also be releasing a book about Houston.

Marshall and Houston met when Houston was just 18 years old. Within three years, Houston signed with Clive Davis of Arista Records, launching her into mega-stardom. 

Source: YouTube

Marshall’s book, Young Whitney, releases exclusively at The Grammy Museum in February 2022. The month and date of the book release mark the 10th anniversary of Houston’s death. The book intends to memorialize Houston in a celebratory way.

In a statement to Deadline, Davis commented that Young Whitney “captures all the beauty, promise and love of life that was indeed Whitney when I first met her.” Audra McDonald, who serves as executive producer, lends her voice as the narrator.

In a statement about the documentary, McDonald said: “Whitney Houston is an artist I worshipped from the moment I first heard her sing. Her voice was simply miraculous and her artistry was perfection. We all witnessed her superstardom, and I’m honored to help tell this part of Whitney’s story, before it all began.”

Whitney Houston’s family is upset about the documentary

There have been several documentaries about Houston since her death in 2012. The most controversial is the 2017 Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal film, Whitney: Can I Be Me, which aired on Showtime. It analyzed whether or not Houston and her alleged suppressed sexuality contributed to her downfall. The film centered on her alleged early romantic relationship with her best friend turned assistant Robyn Crawford and how things became complicated once Houston married Bobby Brown

Source: YouTube

According to Deadline, Whitney Houston in Focus promises to bring a fresh and closer glimpse of Houston through “rare photos and personal stories of an up-and-coming Whitney Houston.”

However, Houston’s family feels differently about the book. A press release revealed that Marshall and Houston’s family worked closely to tell the story. 

“[Marshall] was given unprecedented access by the Houston family to document Whitney’s rise to fame,” the release notes. “Over the subsequent years, Marshall’s camera followed the young singer to early auditions and recording sessions, and even to church.”

Source: YouTube

Not All Whitney Houston Fans Are Happy About Her Upcoming Authorized Biopic

Still, Houston’s estate makes it known that they are not in agreement with Marshall’s collaboration on the documentary, saying in their own statement: “We are saddened to learn that Bette Marshall who had a relationship with Whitney and her family over 35 years ago (and not since) did not reach out to the family at all. We will not be cooperating in any way with this, nor will we support or approve of any music licensing to the project.”

The documentary is not authorized by Whitney Houston’s estate

Whitney In Focus director Benjamin Alfonsi responded to Whitney Houston’s family. The filmmaker released his statement to Deadline, saying:

Bette’s memories of Whitney, and the stunning photos she took between 1982 and 1986, are a beautiful chapter in the history of Whitney Houston. My film is the complete opposite of the exploitative film treatments in recent years that have may have sought to tarnish Whitney’s memory. I did not seek nor did I require any permissions from the Whitney Houston estate to tell this story of a photographer and her one-time muse, who became one of the biggest stars of all time.

It’s one of many that Houston’s estate has been in opposition to. Houston’s estate has its projects in the works, including a biopic.