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King of Pop, Michael Jackson is regarded by some as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century and one of the greatest entertainers of all time. When the sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson first surfaced, many were left stunned.
But, if you think the dust has settled, think again – according to ET, “a controversial new documentary about Michael Jackson has been met with intense reaction during its premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.” The documentary, called “Leaving Neverland,” is a four-hour film about the sexual abuse allegations against Jackson with interviews from two alleged survivors, James Safechuck and Wade Robson. Safechuck and Robson sued the Jackson estate in 2013, but the case was eventually dismissed.
ET says that the men and their families paint “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.” It was apparently so intense several reporters didn’t even wait for the film to be over before tweeting their thoughts.
The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon took to Twitter to express his shock: “On a 10-min break halfway through Sundance’s 4-hour Michael Jackson child sex abuse documentary. Whatever you thought you knew or were aware of, the content of this is more disturbing than you could imagine. And again, we’re only halfway through.” IndieWire film critic David Ehrlich also chimed in, tweeting, “it’s halftime at the four-hour Michael Jackson doc and I’m already gonna need 400 showers to ever feel clean again.”
According to ET, “Variety’s Matt Donnelly reported that healthcare professionals had been installed inside the theater to help audience members upset by the film’s disturbing content.” Well, that’s intense.
It begs the question – is the material of the film true? Protesters were seen outside the Egyptian Theater in Park City, Utah, proclaiming Jackson’s innocence, ET reports.
Jackson’s estate rebuked the film, telling ET in a statement that “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.”
Jackson’s family also released a lengthy statement after the screening:
“Michael Jackson is our brother and son. We are furious that the media, who without a shred of proof or single piece of physical evidence, chose to believe the word of two admitted liars over the word of hundreds of families and friends around the world who spent time with Michael, many at Neverland, and experienced his legendary kindness and global generosity. We are proud of what Michael Jackson stands for,” the statement reads. “People have always loved to go after Michael. He was an easy target because he was unique. But Michael was subjected to a thorough investigation which included a surprise raid of Neverland and other properties as well as a jury trial where Michael was found to be COMPLETELY INNOCENT. There has never been one piece of proof of anything. Yet the media is eager to believe these lies.”
The documentary is said to be released this coming spring on HBO.
Read the full story on ET here.