Note: The following article contains discussion of sexual misconduct that some readers may find upsetting.
A film about the late Michael Jackson that's coming to Channel 4 is already causing huge controversy with his estate.
C4 is partnering with HBO in the US and Terror in Mumbai documentarian Dan Reed on a two-part, four-hour film called Leaving Neverland, which is set to have its world premiere later this month at the Sunset Film Festival.
Reed interviewed two men, now in their 30s, who say they were sexually abused by Jackson after he made friends with their families when they were aged 7 and 10 respectively.
Here's how the Sundance Film Festival is promoting Leaving Neverland: "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.”
In response to news that Channel 4 planned airing Leaving Neverland this spring, the Michael Jackson estate released a statement to TMZ calling the film "another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson".
"[This] so-called documentary is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations," his estate said in a statement. "It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project."
Channel 4 is standing firmly behind Leaving Neverland, calling it an "extraordinarily compelling, yet moving film about two men whose lives were changed forever by one of the most famous men who ever lived".
Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of all forms of sexual violence and sexual misconduct. If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.
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