It’s not uncommon for audiences at the Sundance Film Festival to give standing ovations, but the ceremonial act took on a solemn air as two men who accuse Michael Jackson of molesting them as boys walked onstage following the festival’s only screening of “Leaving Neverland,” a documentary about their stories
Wade Robson, who says Jackson abused him from ages 7 to 14, and James Safechuck came forward as adults with their abuse allegations after Jackson’s death in 2009.
The four-hour film, which will air in two parts on Britain’s Channel 4 and HBO this spring, is a sprawling account of how their lives intersected with Jackson’s at the height of his fame in the 80s and early 90s, and then later as adults when the trauma of what happened in their youth started to emerge in serious ways
In addition to accounts from Robson and Safechuck themselves, the film also interviews family members including the boys’ mothers, wives and Robson’s brother and sister. Jackson’s voice is heard in the film, through voicemails he left for Robson and an “interview” Safechuck did with Jackson aboard his private plane, and the film also shows some of the many faxes he sent to Robson.
“We can’t change what happened to us. And we can’t do anything about Michael,” Robson said in a Q&A with the audience. But he said he hopes it makes other survivors feel less isolated and raises awareness for anyone who is responsible for children.