This comes fresh from the announcement that the controversial doc, which follows the long-standing accusations of sexual abuse against the King of Pop, will screen at the festival on January 25.
It is directed by The Paedophile Hunter director Dan Reed and produced by Reed’s AMOS Pictures for the WarnerMedia-owned premium network and the British broadcaster. Reed has made a number of docs for both broadcasters including The Terror tetralogy.
Leaving Neverland, which will screen in the special events category, tells the story of two boys, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, now in their 30s, who say they were sexually abused by Jackson when they were ages 7 and 10. It features interviews with the two men.
It is exec produced by Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller, executive vice presidents of HBO Documentary and Family Programming, and Channel 4 Specialist Factual commissioner Tom Porter.
Yesterday, following the Sundance announcement, a rep of Jackson’s estate contacted Deadline to call Leaving Neverland “just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations” against the Thriller singer.
Dan Reed said, “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.”
C4’s Porter added, “Dan Reed has succeeded in making an extraordinarily compelling, yet moving film about two men whose lives were changed forever by one of the most famous men who ever lived. Channel 4 is immensely proud to have commissioned this film and created the opportunity for James’ and Wade’s experiences to be so sensitively told.”