As the masses continue to feel the impact of Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, Sundance is gearing up for the release of a controversial doc of its own focused on late singer Michael Jackson.
Leaving Neverland will tell the story of two men who were allegedly sexually abused by the icon at the ages of 7 and 10.
“When allegations of sexual abuse by Jackson involving young boys surfaced in 1993, many found it hard to believe that the King of Pop could be guilty of such unspeakable acts,” according to a press release from Sundance. “In separate but parallel stories that echo one another, two boys were each befriended by Jackson, who invited them into his singular and wondrous world. Seduced by the singer’s fairy-tale existence and enthralled by their relationship with him, both boys’ families were blind to the manipulation and abuse that he would ultimately subject them to. Through gut-wrenching interviews with the now-adult men and their families, Leaving Neverland crafts a portrait of sustained exploitation and deception, documenting the power of celebrity that allowed a revered figure to infiltrate the lives of starstruck children and their parents.”
The Jackson family is working to get the two-part documentary shelved, with brother Jermaine issuing a lengthy statement on Facebook along with a link to a petition.
“A documentary titled Leaving Neverland is planned to be shown to 40,000 people at the Sundance Film Festival. The producer of the film is Dan Reed. This film is based on the falsified claims of molestation by the hands of Michael Jackson,” Jermaine wrote. “As Michael’s innocence was proven by a court of law and a 10 year FBI investigation, this is legally considered defamation of character. This mendacious documentary should NOT see the light of day.”