Documentary accusing Michael Jackson of sexual abuse to premiere at Sundance

'Leaving Neverland' details interviews from two men who allege the pop superstar abused them as children at the height of his fame

FILE - In this May 25, 2005 file photo, Michael Jackson arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for his child molestation trial in Santa Maria, Calif. A documentary film about two boys who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse is set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. The Sundance Institute announced the addition of “Leaving Neverland” and “The Brink,” a documentary about Steve Bannon, to its 2019 lineup on Wednesday. The Sundance Film Festival kicks off on Jan 24 and runs through Feb. 4. (Aaron Lambert/Santa Maria Times via AP, Pool)
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A documentary detailing child abuse allegations against Michael Jackson, through the eyes of two of his accusers, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month.

Leaving Neverland is based on interviews with two men, now in their 30s, who allege Jackson abused them as children at the height of his fame. The film has a run time of four hours.

The Sundance Institute announced on Wednesday that the documentary had been added to the festival's 2019 line-up, as well as a documentary about Steve Bannon called The Brink — a look at the former White House aide's post-Trump career travelling around the world spreading his hard-line anti-immigration message.

Leaving Neverland​ was produced and directed by Bafta-winner Dan Reed, who has previously made a number documentaries dealing with hefty topics, including ISIS, the Charlie Hebdo attacks, paedophile rings, money launderers and other international terrorist attacks.

In a press release, Sundance lists the film under its "special events" category. The movie's synopsis says:

"At the height of his stardom Michael Jackson began long-running relationships with two boys, aged 7 and 10, and their families. Now in their 30s, they tell the story of how they were sexually abused by Jackson, and how they came to terms with it years later."

The names of the accusers profiled in the documentary were not released.

Representatives for Jackson’s estate have slammed the documentary, issuing a statement after the Sundance announcement, saying: “This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.”

Jackson was acquitted of molestation charges in a much-publicised 2005 trial. He died in 2009.

The documentary comes after of Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly docu-series, which recounts a raft of disturbing allegations of sexual abuse against the 52-year-old R&B singer.

The Sundance Film Festival begins on January 24 and runs until February 4.

The annual 10-day marathon of screenings, panels, events, and parties is also the most prestigious film festival in the US. It's a vehicle for independently-produced films from around the US and abroad, and is seen as an early predictor of the year's movie trends. Big-ticket and multi award-winning films such as Get Out, Call Me by Your Name, and The Big Sick all premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017.


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