Leaving Neverland, the two-part, 233-minutes documentary named after Jackson’s famed California ranch, is slotted in the festival’s Special Events category.
“At the height of his stardom, Michael Jackson began long-running relationships with two boys, aged 7 and 10, and their families,” the film’s synopsis states. “Now in their 30s, they tell the story of how they were sexually abused by Jackson, and how they came to terms with it years later.”
Dan Reed, who previously helmed the documentaries The Pedophile Hunters and Three Days of Terror: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks, directed and produced Leaving Neverland.
Upon the release of the news, Jackson’s estate was quick to respond.
“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” a rep for the estate said. “Wade Robson and James Safechuck [who was Jackson’s companion as a child and sued Jackson’s estate over sexual abuse claims] have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. Safechuck and Robson, the latter a self-proclaimed ‘master of deception,’ filed lawsuits against Michael’s estate, asking for millions of dollars. Both lawsuits were dismissed. 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.”
Leaving Neverland, continues a pattern of documentaries being released to highlight sexual abuse by Black entertainers. The most recent, “Surviving R. Kelly,” continues to make waves, as authorities in two states are now looking into the abuse claims against R. Kelly.