This year's Sundance Film Festival saw the premiere of Dan Reed's devastating new documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ that gives a look inside the experiences of Wade Robson and James Safechuck who allege that Michael Jackson sexually abused them during their youth. The announcement of the doc premiering at Sundance was met with criticism from the Michael Jackson estate calling it ‘tabloid character assassination’, his nephew Taj Jackson using GoFundMe to produce a documentary of his own that would exonerate Michael and of course MJ's fans who were quick to label the victims as "liars" and "opportunists".
Despite the fans' threats to organize protests during the ‘Leaving Neverland’ premiere which resulted in having Park City Police on alert, the protest was sparse and the documentary premiered as planned. After the film's premiere, Dan Reed, Wade Robson and James Safechuck showed up for a 15-minute q&a. Both Robson and Safechuck explained that they received no financial compensation for the project, and their involvement in it was inspired by the hope that it would help other victims of childhood sexual abuse. “This was really just trying to tell the story and shine light on it,” Safechuck said. “The same way, knowing that Wade went through it, if we can give other people that same connection and comfort that we’ve gone through something like this, that’s the point.” Robson added, “That was the goal of deciding to try the [legal] case route, was just looking for a platform to be able to tell the truth. … We can’t change what happened to us, and we can’t do particularly anything about stopping Michael. I mean, he’s dead, that’s gone. What happened, happened. So the feeling is, what can do with it now? How can we use this platform to tell the story? And hopefully, it helps other survivors feel less isolated, and it’s something they relate to and validates their story.”
Asked about the MJ fans who were trying to boycott the film and those involved in it, Robson said “I understand that it’s really hard for them to believe because, in a way, not that long ago, I was in the same position they were in. Even though it happened to me, I still couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that what Michael did was a bad thing up until six years ago. So I understand. We can only accept and understand something when we’re ready, and maybe we’ll never be ready. Maybe we will. So that’s their journey.”