Despite fan outrage, the Sundance Film Festival will still screen the controversial Michael Jackson documentary. Now, it’s getting distributed worldwide.
Following the successful airing of six-part docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, the Sundance Film Festival suddenly added a new world premiere.
Produced and directed by Dan Reed, Leaving Neverland centers around sexual abuse allegations against the late King of Pop.
Two victims, now in their 30s, will describe their alleged relationship with Michael Jackson. James Safechuck and Wade Robson claim that when they were young boys aged 10 and 7, respectively, the late pop singer started a relationship with them and their families. Then, once he had gained their trust, the King of Pop sexually molested them.
Both claim that it took them years to come to terms with what happened.
Speaking out against the airing of the controversial documentary, the Michael Jackson estate said,
“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.
“Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. This so-called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations.”
Maintaining the late pop star’s innocence, the estate says that Jackson maintained friendships — and nothing more.
Speaking on the podcast Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum, Macaulay Culkin described his close relationship with Jackson as “so normal and mundane.”
“It’s almost easy to try and say it was ‘weird’ or whatever, but it wasn’t, because it made sense. It’s one of my friendships that people question, only because of the fact that he was the most famous person in the world.”
The child star also added Jackson “wanted to make sure I wasn’t alone.”
The film festival has recently addressed adamant fan protests to pull the documentary.
“It has come to our attention that some of you may have received messages or social media posts from Michael Jackson fans who would like us to pull the screening of Leaving Neverland.
“Sundance Institute supports artists in enabling them to fully tell bold, independent stories, stories on topics which can be provocative or challenging.
“We look forward to audiences at the Festival seeing these films and judging the work for themselves, and discussing it afterwards.”
Now, the documentary will air internationally, thanks to a new deal.
According to a new report, Kew Media Distribution has secured the international distribution rights – except in the UK and the US – to the two-part documentary.
The documentary features interviews with the victim’s mothers, wives, and siblings. Leaving Neverland reportedly paints a portrait of “sustained abuse” and explores “the complicated feelings” both men had.
Speaking on the decision to air the documentary worldwide, Jonathan Ford, Executive Vice President of Sales at Kew Media, explained that the company remains dedicated to “providing strong and emotive programming to Kew Media Distribution’s roster of clients around the world.”
The 2019 Sundance Film Festival will start on January 24th. HBO and Channel 4 will air the two-part documentary this spring.