Dan Reed presents an intimate profile of two of Michael Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse victims.
Sundance Program Description:
As one of the world’s most celebrated icons, Michael Jackson represents many things to many people – a pop star, a humanitarian, a beloved idol. 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. 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.
Reed, who also serves as the project’s cinematographer, is a BAFTA-winning, Emmy-nominated filmmaker based in London. This project continues his relationship with HBO, with which he’s partnered for THREE DAYS OF TERROR: THE CHARLIE HEBDO ATTACKS, TERROR AT THE MALL, TERROR IN MUMBAI, and TERROR IN MOSCOW.
This is Gaudin’s first Sundance credit. She has been part of Reed’s production house, Amos Pictures for several years.
Combined recent past Sundance docs:
ROBIN WILLIAMS: COME INSIDE MY MIND (2018)
RX: EARLY DETECTION – A CANCER JOURNEY WITH SANDRA LEE (2018)
CRIES FROM SYRIA (2017)
NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: GLORIA VANDERBILT & ANDERSON COOPER (2016)
BECOMING MIKE NICHOLS (2016)
Executive VPs Abraham and Heller are co-heads of HBO Documentary and Family Programming, where they have produced multiple Emmy Award-winning projects over the years. They are also executive producers of fellow 2019 Sundance title MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS, in the US Documentary Competition. Abraham also executive produced Documentary Premieres title THE INVENTOR: OUT FOR BLOOD IN SILICON VALLEY.
Porter is a commissioning editor for the UK’s Channel 4.
Cornell previously cut Reed’s TERROR IN MOSCOW.
Why You Should Watch:
Already generating controversy since its late announcement as part of the Sundance lineup, Reed’s project gives voice to James Safechuck and Wade Robson, Jackson’s alleged victims, and explores the impact of their accusations on both men, their families, and Jackson’s legacy. Reed’s two-part doc will be shown in full at the festival before being broadcast by HBO later this year.
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.