At times it's hard to know who the icon is in The Life of an Icon – Michael Jackson or David Gest, the impresario famously married to Liza Minnelli for almost a year and fourth runner-up in I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here 2006.
This is a film, featuring "never-before-seen family photography", produced by David Gest for David Gest Productions, starring David Gest. If one thing emerges from the documentary it's that Jackson could not have had a better friend in his times of need.
It's Gest who's there to support him as a child prodigy, Gest who advises him against more plastic surgery after the first few ops, Gest who gets the Jacksons back together for a glory tour when Michael is off his box and an embarrassment to all, Gest who decides to immortalise him in this film, and Gest who gets the last word: "Rest well my friend. I love you."
Most of all, Gest sets out to prove categorically that Jackson was a heterosexual. He was 100% man, he tells us. Not to put too fine point on it, he says, Michael loved women. Loved them. As a young man, he had his "bones jumped" by a legendary actress, who shall remain nameless, and when officers investigated his house they founds stacks of straight porn – big women, little women, medium women, you name it, Michael fantasised about them. No, there was not a scintilla of gayness in him. Got it.
Gest says he had to make the film because he was tired of all the Wacko Jacko mumbo jumbo and wanted to set the record straight. There are so many fascinating things about Jackson – the singing and dancing, the body dysmorphia, the businessman, the records he broke (Thriller, the best selling album of all time, has sold 110m copies – more than twice as many as its closest rival), the molestation trials, his own children, other people's children, the drugs, and of course, the musical genius – but it's the lack of gayness that Gest remains fixated with.
And yet there are such poignant moments when we are left alone with Jackson, his family, and the world of music. We see that beautiful little boy with the pure voice, the moves, the joy. Young, gifted and black. His mother asks how he could have such blazing confidence on stage, then not be able to look people in the eye when he came off.
Smokey Robinson recalls hearing him sing his song Who's Lovin' you, at the age of 11, and wondering how such a tiny kid could understand the pain of love and loss so profoundly. And you listen to the song, and it could easily be sung by an old man closing in on life. Dionne Warwick tells of the first time she met him, and asked him what he did. "I sing," he said. "Are you good?" she asked. "Oh yes," he said. Many of the testimonies are moving.
But none more so than his mother, Katherine, here given the chance tell her side of the story of Michael's life. In her face, we see the older Michael as he should have been. As he should be. "Children are supposed to bury parents not parents bury children," she says. "That's what hurts most."
There are simple goodies and baddies in the film. The baddies are Martin Bashir, whose television interview led to Jackson's second charge of child molestation, the police and prosecutors, and of course the doctor, Conrad Murray, on trial for involuntary manslaughter.
After a special screening, I meet the "stars" of the film. Gest is in no doubt that the police pursued a vendetta against Jackson. "He was proven not guilty in all the trials," he said. "In the molestation case he was exonerated. I show that 70 police cars came to Neverland. Not even for a mass murderer like Charles Manson do they send 70 police cars, and what do they find? They find Playboy, nude women showing their tits and other parts.
"Do they find any child porn? No. Do they find anything on the computer about little boys? No. Were there any pictures of little boys in the house? No. He was a real man, and I think people see [in the film] he was married twice, he loved women, he lost his virginity at 19." The more he made the case for Jackson's heterosexuality the more passionate he becomes.
It's hard to take Jackson's two lawyers seriously – not least because one is magnificently named Sue Yu while Thomas Mesereau looks eerily like the recently departed Jimmy Savile. But they talk with feeling about how much Jackson's 2005 trial took out of him; how he walked into court in his pyjamas, frailer and whiter than ever. A ghost of the ghost he had already become.
Perhaps Jackson's tragedy is best summed up by the fact that in a documentary of his life it is the attorneys (and Gest) who end up taking centre stage.
Meanwhile, in another room Jackson's brother Tito and less well known sister Rebbie sit quietly. In the documentary, Tito says: "To have to carry your brother to his grave… a major part of you dies with that."
More than two years on from Jackson's death, aged 50, they look as if they are still in mourning. They describe the Michael they remember – the loving brother, the joker who would whisper into Rebbie's ear that a cockroach was climbing up her leg as she was singing live.
Rebbie says towards the end of his life it felt as if Michael was beyond their help. "It was very difficult at times. It's important when someone is in that space to be able to have hands on to some extent because you have people around you who are yes yes yes people."
She talks about the trial of Dr Conrad Murray, which is reaching its conclusion, and the need for justice. "The entertainment is one thing, but him being our brother is another thing."
Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.