I am not sure if I will be able to catch Dan Reed‘s Michael Jackson-Pedophilia doc "Leaving Neverland" in a few weeks at Sundance, mostly because it's a four-hour doc and it's a risk cramming that lengthy a film into a day's schedule, but also because I was never completely on-board with the mob that claimed Michael Jackson was a sexual predator. There was just something about the guy that felt asexual rather than sexual. The doc will relive the experiences of two men —James Safechuck and Wade Robson — who are claiming to have been molested by Jackson when they were minors.
Jackson’s Santa Barbara sexual molestation trial of ’04 and ’05 didn’t involve Safechuck and Robson, but Gavin Arvizo. These are new victims, never heard of before until they came forward for the Reed doc.
The Jackson estate quickly rebutted the presence of the doc at Sundance: “This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson. This so-called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”
Statement from Reed: “If there’s anything we’ve learned during this time in our history, it’s that sexual abuse is complicated, and survivors’ voices need to be listened to. It took great courage for these two men to tell their stories, and I have no question about their validity. I believe anyone who watches this film will see and feel the emotional toll on the men and their families and will appreciate the strength it takes to confront long-held secrets.”
Jackson has now been gone for almost 10 years, but that hasn't stopped his fans from furiously condemning Sundance for the doc's appearance in their program. So much so, that Sundance had to release a statement defending the inclusion of the doc in their slate:
“Sundance Institute supports artists in enabling them to fully tell bold, independent stories, stories on topics which can be provocative or challenging,” the statement reads. “We look forward to audiences at the Festival seeing these films and judging the work for themselves, and discussing it afterwards..We plan to proceed with the screening as announced.”
Reed could very well be an opportunity-hungry filmmaker; did he screen these new victims and their claims before embarking on this film? With a 240 minute length, I would presume there has to be a lot of fact-based evidence in his film. After all, you are targeting someone who cannot defend himself and that has been put to the ringer numerous times by Californian authorities with no evidence to show for as of now.
"Leaving Neverland” premieres on HBO in the spring.