Documentary about Michael Jackson accusers added to Sundance lineup
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LOS ANGELES — Sundance said Wednesday that a documentary about two boys who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse will premiere at its film festival later this month, while the Jackson estate called the film “just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations.”
The Sundance Institute announced the addition of “Leaving Neverland” to its festival lineup along with “The Brink,” a documentary about former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
The Jackson estate promptly denounced the “Leaving Neverland,” which was co-produced by HBO and British public broadcaster Channel 4 and will air on the channels this spring. The 233-minute, two-part documentary will be shown only once at the festival on the morning of Jan. 25.
“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” an estate statement said.
A description of “Leaving Neverland” says it will tell the story of two men who are now in their 30s and began long-running relationships with Jackson at ages 7 and 10 when Jackson was at the height of his fame.
Jackson was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005.
The film is produced and directed by BAFTA-winning director Dan Reed. A representative for Reed did not immediately reply to an after-hours email seeking comment Wednesday, but in a press release Thursday, Reed said in a statement that, “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.”
Reed continued: “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.”
LINDSEY BAHR, AP Film Writer