Viewers have reacted to a “disturbing” new documentary about Michael Jackson, as it premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on Friday.
‘Leaving Neverland’ details past allegations of child sexual abuse made against the late Michael Jackson – focusing on accusations made by choreographer Wade Robson and computer programmer James Safechuck.
The documentary is four hours long in total, and received an incredibly emotional reaction from the audience.
IndieWire film critic tweeted, “It’s halftime at the four-hour Michael Jackson doc and I’m already gonna need 400 showers to ever feel clean again. #Sundance.”
Painful. Brutally upsetting. Triggering. My heart is incredibly broken. I’m sorry y’all. This hurts. Bad. #LeavingNeverland
— Gerrick D. Kennedy (@GerrickKennedy) January 25, 2019
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.
— Kevin Fallon (@kpfallon) January 25, 2019
The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon also tweeted, “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.”
Due to the film’s upsetting content, healthcare professionals were reportedly present in the lobby of the theatre to help those affected by the documentary.
#Sundance has provided health care professionals in the theater for audience members potentially upset by #LeavingNeverland’s explicit descriptions of sexual abuse against underage boys. They are in the wings ready with counsel.
— Matt Donnelly (@MattDonnelly) January 25, 2019
Feel sick to my stomach after watching Part 1 of #LeavingNeverland doc. Michael Jackson witnesses/sex abuse victims coming off very credible. It’s so sexually explicit that counselors are in the lobby. #SundanceFilmFestival2019
— Mara Reinstein (@MaraReinstein) January 25, 2019
Ahead of the film’s release, the Jackson Estate issued a statement calling it “another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.”
The statement continued, “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.”
Leaving Neverland will premiere on HBO and Channel 4 this spring.