The Sundance Film Festival has issued a statement to its corporate partners notifying them it will not be removing the documentary “Leaving Neverland” from its official 2019 lineup. The latest documentary feature from Dan Reed, “Leaving Neverland” investigates allegations of sexual abuse and child molestation against Michael Jackson, told through the personal stories of two of Jackson’s alleged victims. Sundance announced the film was joining the 2019 lineup on January 9.
In a statement to corporate partners, Sundance wrote, “It has come to our attention that some of you may have received messages or social media posts from Michael Jackson fans who would like us to pull the screening of ‘Leaving Neverland.’ Sundance Institute supports artists in enabling them to fully tell bold, independent stories, stories on topics which can be provocative or challenging. We look forward to audiences at the Festival seeing these films and judging the work for themselves, and discussing it afterwards.”
Sundance continued, “We don’t currently plan to comment publicly or engage in the discourse around ‘Leaving Neverland,’ and would recommend that you do the same. We plan to proceed with the screening as announced. If you do plan to participate in the conversation, we’d welcome the opportunity to collaborate on your messaging.”
“Leaving Neverland” has already been condemned by Michael Jackson’s official estate. Following the news of the movie premiering at Sundance, the estate issued its own statement: “This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson…Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. 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.”
HBO and Chanel 4 have already acquired distribution rights to “Leaving Neverland.” The former is set to debut the documentary on its network this spring.