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Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me is a 2019 documentary film directed and produced by British filmmaker Dan Reed. It focuses on two men, Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, who allege they were sexually abused by the pop star Michael Jackson as children. The film is a co-production between the UK broadcaster Channel 4 and the US broadcaster Home Box Office (HBO). After premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2019, it is scheduled for broadcast in the US on March 3 and 4, 2019, and in the UK on March 6 and 7, 2019. On March 4, after the showing, HBO will broadcast "Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland".
|Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me|
|Directed by||Dan Reed|
|Produced by||Dan Reed|
|Edited by||Jules Cornell|
Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me is a 2019 documentary film directed and produced by British filmmaker Dan Reed. It focuses on two men, Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, who allege they were sexually abused by the pop star Michael Jackson as children.
The film is a co-production between the UK broadcaster Channel 4 and the US broadcaster Home Box Office (HBO). After premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2019, it is scheduled for broadcast in the US on March 3 and 4, 2019, and in the UK on March 6 and 7, 2019. On March 4, after the showing, HBO will broadcast "Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland".
In interviews, Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck and their families describe their relationship with the American pop singer Michael Jackson. Safechuck and Robson allege that Jackson sexually abused them at his home, Neverland Ranch, in California.
In 1993, Jackson was accused of sexually molesting 13-year-old Jordan Chandler. He denied the claims and settled the civil case out of court. No criminal charges were filed. In 2005, following further allegations, Jackson was acquitted of child sexual abuse. Robson and Safechuck had previously denied being molested by Jackson.
In January 2019, the Jackson estate issued a press release condemning the film, saying "The two accusers testified under oath that these events never occurred. They have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations." Despite protests by Jackson fans, the Sundance Film Festival issued a statement to its corporate sponsors that it would not withdraw the film. Reed said: "I believe anyone who watches this film will see and feel the emotional toll on the men and their families." Robson and Safechuck attended the Sundance premiere, where the audience gave them a standing ovation. Both said they had received death threats from Jackson fans.
HBO cannot be sued for defamation, as Jackson is dead. However, in February 2019 the Jackson estate petitioned a law court to compel HBO to cooperate in arbitration regarding its plan to broadcast the film, allegedly violating a 1992 agreement to broadcast Michael Jackson in Concert in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour, when HBO agreed not to "make any disparaging remarks concerning Performer or any of his representatives, agents, or business practices or do any act that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem the reputation or public image of Performer".
On Rotten Tomatoes, Leaving Neverland holds an approval rating of 85% based on 13 reviews, with an average score of 6.85/10. Its consensus states: "Crucial and careful, Leaving Neverland gives empathetic breadth and depth to the complicated afterlife of child sexual abuse as experienced by adult survivors."
In Entertainment Weekly, Kristen Baldwin gave the film a B grade. She criticized it as "woefully one-sided" and concluded: "As a documentary, Leaving Neverland is a failure. As a reckoning, though, it is unforgettable." In The Hollywood Reporter, Daniel Fienberg wrote that Leaving Neverland "is nearly as much about the 20+ years during which Robson and Safechuck held onto secrets or even lied and covered up the truth — and the damage that can do — as it is about the alleged crimes themselves." He concluded that "it's doubtful you'll feel exactly the same after watching". The Daily Telegraph awarded it five out of five, describing it as "a horrifying picture of child abuse".
David Fear wrote in Rolling Stone: "By offering these men a forum, this doc has clearly chosen a side. Yet the thoroughness with which it details this history of allegations, and the way it personalizes them to a startling degree, is hard to shake off." IndieWire's David Ehrlich wrote that the film was "dry" and "hardly great cinema", but that it was "a crucial document for a culture that still can't see itself clearly in Michael Jackson's shadow".
Jackson's side of the story was accepted as fact for decades. Leaving Neverland is the other side.
|Witnesses for the prosecution|
|Witnesses for the defense|