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Continuing a pattern of documentary features on celebrities made with the close involvement of the subjects they depict, Sony Music Entertainment’s Premium Content Division, in partnership with SME Canada and Vermilion Films, announced the start of production for an untitled feature-length documentary about Celine Dion, the five-time Grammy-winning artist who has sold more than 250 million records over a 40-year career.
The film is being directed by Vermillion’s lead creative player, Irene Taylor, whose first feature documentary, Hear and Now, won both a Peabody and the Audience Award at Sundance in 2007. Her doc short, The Final Inch (2009), was nominated for an Oscar.
“I’ve always been an open book with my fans,” said Dion in a statement released by SME, “and with [Tayler’s] sensitivity and thoughtful creativity, I think that Irene will be able to show everyone a part of me that they haven’t seen before… I know she’ll tell my story in the most honest and heartfelt way.”
The French Canadian singer, who began recording in her early teens, has been called “The Queen of Adult Contemporary,” and might best be known for singing the Oscar-winning ballad from Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On.”
While it’s not uncommon for A-list talent to be involved in such projects — Tina Turner (Tina), Taylor Swift (Miss Americana) and Led Zeppelin, (Becoming Led Zeppelin) all gave their blessing to the respective filmmakers behind these docs — the process of a subject aligning with a director to tell his or her story is becoming more prevalent, especially when access to personal archives and music rights is at stake. That Dion’s label group is shouldering the cost and will act as distributor makes that access even more advantageous to Taylor. All of the French Canadian’s English-language albums have been distributed by the Sony Music label family.
In some cases, the subject will claim a producer credit, as is the case with the upcoming Justin Bieber doc, Our World, or Val Kilmer on Val, on which the actor reportedly had final cut.
The process isn’t always as symbiotic as it looks on paper. Alanis Morrisette reportedly interviewed directors for the recent bio-doc Jagged, but didn’t take a producer’s credit. She later objected to the film’s content and tone.
It’s not clear whether Dion will have a producer credit (SME did not respond to queries by press time) or whether the feature will have a theatrical release.
Her four-year Las Vegas residency that began in 2003 is the most successful of all time, having grossed more than $385 million. Later this year, Dion will return to Vegas with a new show at Resorts World Las Vegas, kicking off with 10 performances in November. Her Courage World Tour, which was cut short in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, will resume across North America and Europe in spring and summer of 2022.
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