A new documentary about the life of Whitney Houston alleges that the singer was the victim of sexual abuse as a child.
The movie, called Whitney, has been directed by Kevin Macdonald, the Scottish filmmaker behind films like One Day In September and the drama The Last King of Scotland, and debuted yesterday at the Cannes Film Festival.
It alleges that Houston, who died in 2012, was molested at a young age by her cousin, the soul singer Dee Dee Warwick, the younger sister of Dionne Warwick.
The allegations are made in the film by Gary Garland-Houston, Whitney Houston’s half-brother, a former NBA basketball player who says he was also abused by Warwick between the ages of seven and nine.
It would mean that the singer would have been a toddler at the time of the alleged abuse.
Speaking about the claims, Macdonald told Deadline: “I first began to suspect that there might be some kind of abuse involved before anyone had actually told me. I just had a sense, having sat watching interviews about her, watching footage of her.
“I had a feeling that there was something wrong with her. There was something preventing her, in some way, from expressing her real self. She felt uncomfortable in her own skin in almost every interview there was with her.
“And I thought that was a very strange thing, and it kind of reminded me of people I’d seen who had suffered from abuse, just in their body language and their sense of holding something back.
“That was just an intuition, and then somebody mentioned it off-camera to me. They wouldn’t talk about it on camera, but they said Whitney had said to her that something had happened.
“And for a long time, that was where it lay. I didn’t know whether that was true. And then I interviewed Pat Houston and Gary Houston, who’s Whitney’s brother. He told me that he was abused by a woman in the family, and Pat Houston told me that, yes, Whitney had said to her, ‘This is what happened.’”
Dee Dee Warwick, herself a celebrated soul singer but who spent her career in the shadow of sister Dionne, was said to have struggled with drug addiction, and died in 2008 at the age of 63.
Though the Houston family has not commented on the allegations, the film, which also features interviews with her husband Bobby Brown, was made with their blessing.
It also alleges that Houston had earnings stolen from her by her father John Houston, who was also her accountant and who tried and failed to sue his daughter for $100 million in a breach of contract case in 2002.
Houston died after she drowned in the bathtub of a hotel room in Los Angeles, after many years dealing with her own problems with substance abuse.
The movie will be released in the UK on July 6.