To mark the release of Whitney 'Can I Be Me', we look at the career of award-winning British documentarian Nick Broomfield, from his 1976 feature debut Juvenile Liaison through to Kurt & Courtney, Biggie and Tupac and Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer.
Juvenile Liaison (1976)
Banned by the ruling Labour government under pressure of the police officers portrayed in the film, directors Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill embedded themselves into a juvenile liaison project in Blackburn, Lancashire. The first of two films, we meet a group of vulnerable childrens who have all had run-ins with the law and the often strong-arm tactics employed by those apparently charged with keeping them on the straight and narrow.
A partner piece of sorts to his 1995 TV documentary Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam, Fetishes see Broomfield casting his investigative eye on Pandora's Box, one of New York City's most luxurious SM/fetish parlours. Often humorous but never anything less than fascinating, here we see Broomfield's more tongue-in-cheek approach in full force, which would later be employed to full effect in his Sarah Palin documentary.
Kurt & COurtney (1998)
Broomfield's first box office success, Kurt & Courtney caused a huge stir on its release, not least for the "allegations" it made about Cobain's widow Courtney Love and her rumoured involvement in his untimely demise. Grossing over $500,000 in the US despite only playing in 12 cinemas at its widest, this was a real turning point in Broomfield's already fruitful filmmaking career.
Biggie & Tupac (2002)
Another highly-publicised tale of death and deceit, Biggie & Tupac delved deep into the murders of murdered East Coast rappers Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace and Tupac "2Pac" Shakur. Not only does the film lay the blame for both killings firmly at the feet of Death Row Records head Suge Knight (recently charged with a fatal hit-an-run in Compton), but LAPD involvement is also strongly implied.
Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)
A follow-up to his 1992 film Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, Broomfield returned to the case of Wuornos in the weeks leading up to her questionable execution on Death Row. Released in tandem with the Charlize Theron-starring biopic Monster, which won its lead actress an Oscar, we again see Broomfield returning to his preoccupation with the sex industry - this time exposing its dark heart.
Sarah Palin: You Betcha! (2011)
Premiered at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival before a limited, crowd-funded US cinema release, You Betcha! sees Broomfield in hot pursuit of Alaskan governor and Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin, at that stage in time one of the most controversial right-wing politicians in the western world. Known for her "You betcha!" catchphrase and divisive opinions on everything from abortions to gun control, she proved a perfect - if elusive - subject.
Tales of the Grim Sleeper (2014)
A co-production between HBO in the US and Sky in the UK, Broomfield follows the case of the “Grim Sleeper” murders, which took place in South Central Los Angeles from 1985 to 2007. The arrest of main suspect Lonnie Franklin was not the product of painstaking detective work, but the accidental result of a computer DNA match linking him to a possible 20 victims. On the trail of the true killer, this is a gripping true crime doc with all the journalistic vigor one would expect of its director.
Directed by Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal, WHITNEY 'CAN I BE ME' will have its UK premiere plus Q&A and tribute performance on 11 June. whitneyhoustonfilm.com