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‘I Want to Help People’

‘I Want to Help People’

Celine Dion celebrated her upcoming documentary, I Am Celine Dion, on Monday night in New York City with a special screening.

The legendary singer’s project serves as a love letter to her fans while highlighting the music that has guided her throughout life and documenting the years she has struggled with stiff-person syndrome. She announced she was diagnosed with the life-altering and rare neurological illness in December 2022.

When it came to I Am: Celine Dion, the musician noted that she didn’t want it to focus solely on her career because that had been done several times already, but instead wanted it to raise awareness for her fans about what had been going on in her life that led her to postpone and cancel tour dates.

“It’s such an honor and a privilege to be a mother, and I thought that it was my biggest responsibility for me to know what was going on with my health for my kids, and then the respect that I have for my fans and my family,” Dion told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the screening. “I’ve been an open book all my life. They need to know I’m not here by myself after 40-something years of career.”

She explained that it’s been a long process because hers is such a rare disease, so finding doctors who can treat her condition is more difficult, and there have been so many tests. Despite the fact that she’s dealing with stiff-person syndrome, she also wants to be there for people who are struggling in their own lives.

“A lot of people in the world are suffering or alone are wondering, and I hope that this documentary gives an opportunity to people, first of all, to let them know that I am here as a mother as an artist, as a woman as an ambassador in a way of I want to help people,” she said. “A lot of people are looking into a bag of empty hope, and it’s pretty dark, and I felt like that for a long time until I realized that this is not living. That’s not even dying. This is just being still, and I didn’t want that anymore. I don’t think I deserved that. My kids especially did not deserve that.”

As she continues to work through her diagnosis, the “My Heart Will Go On” singer said that seeing how her fans remain loyal to her and support her in her endeavors feels like “a new beginning in a way,” but she admitted she’s a little nervous about this next chapter.

I Am Celine Dion was directed by Irene Taylor, who didn’t know Dion was sick when she signed onto the documentary. She wondered, at the time, what the angle could be for the project, and then the artist told her about her illness.

“What I was worried about was, ‘What would the film be about? What would I focus on?’” Taylor told THR. “Because there is a very long career that we could focus on, and ultimately, this film really looks back on many, many decades, but it really focuses on the here and now and who she is or I am right now.”

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Inside the theater, minutes before the screening that was broadcast across several cities, Taylor praised the collaborators who gave her complete freedom to develop a relationship with Dion on her own terms. The filmmaker also revealed that the musician only asked one thing of her when they agreed to work together on I Am Celine Dion — she wanted to make a film where she was the one talking about herself instead of other people talking about her.

When Dion took the stage, she shared an anecdote from the documentary in which she compared herself to an apple while she was learning about stiff-person syndrome following her diagnosis.

“When I said to myself that I compared myself to an apple from a tree, I don’t want you to wait in line anymore if I don’t have any shiny apples for you,” she shared. “So, a couple of days ago I saw a message from a fan, and it said, ‘We’re not here for the apple. We’re here for the tree.’”

I Am Celine Dion hits Prime Video on June 25.

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