The Story Behind Leaving Neverland, the Michael Jackson Documentary That Stunned Sundance

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  1. playahaitian

    playahaitian Well-Known Member Certified Pussy Poster

    The Story Behind Leaving Neverland, the Michael Jackson Documentary That Stunned Sundance
    By Bilge Ebiri
    Sundance 2019[/paste:font]


    [img src="" alt="LEARN MORE »

    At the same time, these children believed that they loved Jackson, and that he loved them back. There were candy and toys and videos everywhere, and tons of things to do. The singer helped them with their careers, bringing them along on tour and letting them perform. When he and Robson were apart, Jackson called and sent faxes all the time, his messages filled with affection and praise.

    Robson and Safechuck are still struggling to reconcile their feelings for Jackson with their knowledge of what was done to them, it seems. As Safechuck says early on, “He was one of the kindest, most gentle, generous people I’ve ever known. He helped me with my career and my creativity. And he sexually molested me for seven years.” Robson, for his part, actually testified in Jackson’s defense at both of the singer’s sexual molestation trials — the first time eagerly, the second time reluctantly, he says — and only came out about his own abuse in 2013.

    I spoke to the film’s director, Dan Reed, about the allegations, and about how he approached making Leaving Neverland.

    How familiar were you with the Michael Jackson story before you started making this film?

    Not at all. I make films about conflicts and terrorism and crime and stuff like that, and I have no real interest in show business or all those kinds of stories. I made a film called The Paedophile Hunter which was thematically linked to this one, but completely different in content and style.

    When you decide to tell a story like this, what kind of verification do you do to confirm that your subjects are telling the truth, or that you believe them?

    One factor, which plays a big part, is my 30 years’ experience of interviewing. I won’t claim that I can always tell when someone’s lying or not, but you do get used to catching people out when their account is inconsistent, or when there are jumps and flaws. The way I imagine it is that when people sit down and tell a story, their mind is looking at a real thing that happened to them, right? And that real thing is a 360-degree solid thing. So, at any one point you can turn them back to that thing, and they can reinterrogate it and tell you something new about it. They don’t have to make it up. When people are lying, they don’t have that thing — unless they are pathological liars. So, the technique of the interview is important: the length, the consistency, the sustained engagement with particular scenarios and questions, and approaching them from different angles and going back.

    That comes through in the film. The viewer feels like we are in the same room with them the whole time. You don’t do a lot of clever cutting around the interviews. You really let your subjects speak.

    I take great care with the filming of interviews. I’m sort of obsessed with exactly how it happens, and I prepare for a long time for the interview and study them. These are stories told by the human voice. And I like to make that as intimate and as immersive an experience as possible, and that involves the way you treat the sound and the cinematography and all that. But that’s just a means to an end. What I’m trying to achieve is to basically lock you in a space with these people, and for you to absorb all of the nonverbal signals — just the way we relate to people when they’re telling us a story. I want viewers to experience that in the theater or watching on TV. The films are incredibly simple: It’s just interview, aerial cinematography, and a bit of archive, you know? But it’s always amazed me how much drama there is in the face of a person telling you a story.

    What are some other ways you verify these stories?

    We have to make sure that their accounts stack up. That they were in, you know, Budapest when they claim were, and that Jackson did play a concert where he claims this happened, that sort of basic fact checking, which we were very diligent with.

    I also interviewed experts on child sexual abuse. “Does this match the pattern of a pedophile?” A hundred percent it does. I went to see an LAPD detective specializing in child sexual abuse who’s been involved with more than four thousand investigations. And he said, you know, Jackson’s modus operandi was absolutely typical, and kind of cookie-cutter perfect. I mean, there is no videotape of Michael Jackson having sex with a child. We don’t have that kind of proof. Although he did record himself having sex with James …

    Oh, he did?

    Yeah. He destroyed it — he panicked and destroyed the tapes. But I believed [Wade and James] because their accounts have all the characteristics of a credible account. This wasn’t a half-hour conversation. This was days and days of interview, followed up by lots of checking up and verifying. And I haven’t found anything that made me question whether they were telling the truth or not. And I’ve got to know them pretty well now.

    Did you reach out to other victims, or other potential victims?

    I did reach out to those who I thought might be open to speaking to me. There are a number — some of whom are referenced in the film — who are staunch Jackson loyalists and have made that very clear on social media and all that, and there’s no point reaching out to them. But before very long, it became clear that this was a story about the Robsons and the Safechucks. This wasn’t like a series of generic stories which I used to demonstrate Jackson’s guilt. This really is sort of two family epics, and the completeness of the telling of each one is I think what gives the film its power and coherence. And as soon as you start adding more variety, you dilute that.

    Because it’s not really a story about how two boys were sexually abused by Michael Jackson. It’s really a story about how these two men and their families came to terms with the fact. The denouement is the last half-hour of the film. Everyone’s focused on the acts of abuse, because there’s this story around Jackson — did he do it, or not? — but the story we tell in the film is actually about coming to terms with something that happened a long time ago.

    At what point did you realize that would be what the film is about?

    As soon I had the Wade and James interviews, and then definitely as soon as I interviewed [their mothers] Stephanie and Joy, I realized that there’s so much story in here, and it’s kind of epic. I did go interview detectives and D.A.s and people who had been involved in the criminal trial, and also people who had been involved in the [1993] Jordan Chandler investigation. It took a lot of time doing that, and it was part of the preparation for understanding what went down over those two decades. But then I realized that the drama is all in the families converging on this point where they find out the truth.

    The Michael Jackson allegations have been around awhile, but there doesn’t seem to have been much of an effort to engage with them in recent years. And most people don’t know the details. So it’s like the story hasn’t been told, and yet there’s the sense that the story has been told. Did that pose a challenge for you?

    That’s probably one of the main reasons why I chose to do the story, because it exists already out there as a question. And I think we’ve delivered the answer to that question. I’ve spoken to a lot of people, and there are two responses when I say I’m doing this film about the victims of Michael Jackson. One response is, “Oh, but he never had a childhood.” And that really annoys me. Just because you didn’t have a great childhood doesn’t mean you can rape children. And the other response is, “Yeah, I always assumed he was guilty, but …” And yet you still were happy to listen to his music … So, it was never settled, I think mainly because Jackson was acquitted in the criminal trial [in 2005], and that sent a big message. People were like, “Well, maybe he’s just really weird.”

    I think in some ways maybe the reason why people don’t want to think about whether he’s guilty is because it requires way too much emotional and brain power to process this. Entire generations grew up with his music, and his image. You can’t take his influence out of world pop culture.

    No. And that’s why I think people will come out of the film feeling sad. I think most people who take the trouble to watch the film will come out believing Wade and James’s story. I think it’d be very difficult not to believe them, once you’ve listened to them and their families. Imagining that they’d make that story up is just so implausible. But you walk away and it’s a sad moment, because another nice thing about the world has gone dark — the lights have gone out on a whole center of your cultural space. And it’s part of this era where we’re suddenly having our eyes opened about all sorts of people to whom we looked up. Institutions that we thought would always be there to protect us are being challenged. It’s a time of reevaluation.

    Why are people so interested in the truth about what this man did in the late ’80s and early ’90s? I think it’s because of his presence in the fabric of American life and people’s lives worldwide, the fact that he means something to people. And the meaning of that thing is going to change, and we’re attempting to change it.

    At one point, James produces a box of jewelry Michael Jackson gave him, which includes a ring that Michael gave him when they had a mock wedding, when James was 10. It’s a devastating scene. I’d never heard about this.

    James’s story hasn’t been told at all. Jackson had this thing, where he would say to James, “Sell me some.” And that meant James would have to perform sexual favors for Jackson in order to get jewelry. And it’s interesting that he’s hung onto those rings. That was a scene we filmed later, actually. It took a while for James to come around to being able to show us those rings. Luckily, we were able to take such a long time making the film, which was partly because HBO and Channel 4 had the patience to wait for us to do the job properly. And when we shot the scene, as he says in the film, his hands are trembling. Those rings encompass or embody the whole story — the beauty of the ring and the value of it, and the abuse associated with it.

    And the fact that he’s kept it.

    And the fact that he’s kept it. They both say, “How do we deal with the fact that Jackson was amazing, that he had this incredible influence on our lives …” and played this mentoring role. Even if it was self-interested, he did have an impact on their lives, some of which they cherish. And yet, he also destroyed something very precious: their childhood. They’re struggling with it —James probably more than Wade is really struggling with that duality. The rings kind of symbolize that for me. I think it’s a really telling scene. You really feel for him. The mock wedding with a 10-year-old. I mean, come on.

    There are a lot of people out there who are convinced that Michael Jackson is innocent, and have produced reams of counter-arguments against some of these allegations. Have you engaged with any of those arguments?

    I’m familiar with the arguments. I know the reasons why they think that Wade’s lying, and none of them have any validity. It’s just not factual. We know he took the witness stand in 2005 and said that Michael hadn’t abused him. He says it in the film, and he explains exactly why that happened. We know that he went to Michael’s memorial service and wept. He says that in the film. You know, the fans were like, “Oh yeah, but he wanted a limo to go to Michael’s funeral.” Yes, it’s in the film. He doesn’t deny any of that. I have never come across anything on any of the fan sites or anywhere else that sort of caused me to doubt what Wade is saying. You know, if someone wants to make an argument as to why he’s not telling the truth, they should watch the film, and if they still think they have questions then, you know, I’d be happy to hear from them.

    Was there ever a point at which you thought you might tell a more straightforward, investigative story?

    I left that option open pretty much until we began editing, or a little way into editing. Because I wanted to be sure that I understood the civil case and the criminal trial. Because that’s where Wade reconnects with Jackson, is his testimony. He’s witness No. 1. He is the strongest witness in Jackson’s favor. He’d probably say this himself, but, as a fellow victim, he betrays [Jackson accuser] Gavin Arvizo by testifying, by saying a lie on the witness stand, and I think he feels badly about that. I wanted to make sure that I understood exactly what happened in that case, and why Gavin Arvizo lost the case. I wanted to make sure that I had all my facts straight.

    Did Wade ever reach out to Gavin?


    Did you reach out to Gavin?

    I did, yeah. I wrote him a long letter. He didn’t respond. He’s entitled not to respond, and I didn’t take offense to that at all. You know, this is a story which I feel will continue in my filmmaking career, because there are so many other avenues that I didn’t explore, other victims. And I would like to tell the story of the 2005 criminal trial, and I’d love to tell Jordy Chandler’s story from the inside. And that would require Jordy and Gavin to come forward. I did reach out to Gavin, because you have to keep your options open as a filmmaker with this kind of story, until really it’s impossible for you to make the film any other way than the way you’ve made it. And I felt that’s what we’ve done. It’s a story that demanded to be told in this way.

    Are you surprised that more hasn’t been done about this story, until now?

    I’m kind of astonished that this film hasn’t been made before. I think that as Wade said on stage [at the post-screening Q&A], you can only come to terms with it when you’re ready. I think the timing worked out, and I came along at the right time, and HBO was the right channel. I think what we’ve done is extraordinary and unique, and it’s never been done before. And it’s due mostly to the courage of Wade and James and their moms and their families speaking out. But also being able to let them tell their story over a long time. And to tell the story in a way that is the complete opposite of the disposable stories you get online — all of the, you know, two-, three-, and four-minute stories. This is the antithesis of that. And that’s why I think it has the ring of truth.
  2. P03t Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    watching now :popcorn:
  3. therealjondoe

    therealjondoe Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    Shit is nasty
    P03t likes this.
  4. therealjondoe

    therealjondoe Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    Do you believe it so far?
  5. Amajorfucup

    Amajorfucup Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    ViCiouS likes this.
  6. P03t

    P03t Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    I believe some of it...always thought Mike molested boys at some point before the documentary
  7. alexw

    alexw Unapologetically Afrikan! Platinum Member

    those two dickheads testified on mikes behalf during his molestation trial that he never touched anyone
    now 10 yrs after his death theyre victims
    nah...mofos concocted a great story over the years with some hollywood help
    hell why arent they arrested for lying under oath?
  8. P03t

    P03t Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    they actually have footage with with him and victims getting in and out of cars and recorded what man calls to talk to a young boy?

    and their family ain't shit Mike or not why you calling to talk to a my 8 year old son?
    TENT, Esther and voyuer like this.
  9. therealjondoe

    therealjondoe Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    Reminds me of abducted in plain site.
    3mpimp and Esther like this.
  10. therealjondoe

    therealjondoe Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    You cool telling the world Mike licked your ass and yall sucked each other dick when you were 7
    Rembrandt Brown likes this.
  11. therealjondoe

    therealjondoe Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    On the phone for hours with little kids.
    Esther, voyuer and P03t like this.
  12. alexw

    alexw Unapologetically Afrikan! Platinum Member

    an opportunists would be very cool with that
    again, they were grown men who had the opportunity to put their molestor away and they testified on his behalf IN TWO DIFFERENT TRIALS
    you dont find that strange at all?
    but now they want to come clean?
  13. Complex

    Complex Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    I don't see how people defend him before listening to the evidence or seeing the documentary.

    Shit is like Pill Cosby and P Kelly, no matter the evidence and how much there is people still defend them.
  14. therealjondoe

    therealjondoe Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    You need to watch it
    I don't think its that strange when they were kids and Mike had crazy power over them
  15. Mr. Met

    Mr. Met So Amazin BGOL Investor

    Hanging with little white boys the way MJ did, holding their hands and sleeping with them etc. is at best inappropriate.

    Just ask yourself if you saw a man who looked, acted and dressed like MJ without the fame and money if he'd be sniffing distance around your seeds.

    Everyone including Mammy Oprah had to at least suspect that there was creepy shit going down and they swept it under the rug.

    Now for whatever reason they wanna stomp out whatever is left of his legacy.

    Oh well. Just another lesson to up and coming cats who wanna snuggle up to white folk/culture and think shit is sweet.
    TruDat, TENT, mangobob79 and 2 others like this.
  16. alexw

    alexw Unapologetically Afrikan! Platinum Member

    i dont need to watch anything
    and i refuse to watch that bs
    again tell me why grown men who had the opportunity to convict their molestor in two different trials said NAH?
    i see if they were still kids but they were fucking grown
  17. P03t

    P03t Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    ArsenalCannon357 and Naha-Nago like this.
  18. alexw

    alexw Unapologetically Afrikan! Platinum Member

    exactly bro
    cats are dodging that question like a mofo
    if mike was here he could tell you about those two
    but since hes gone its just their crooked ass word
  19. hussla's paradice

    hussla's paradice Chubby Chasing Connoisseur BGOL Investor

    Mike is a legend.
    richminded, TENT, Naha-Nago and 2 others like this.
  20. alexw

    alexw Unapologetically Afrikan! Platinum Member

    ahh so mikes estate is booming again. now we know why this bs was made.
  21. P03t

    P03t Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    same Mike that admitted he likes to share his bed with kids holding hands with little boys dude was/is a Pedo
    mumra likes this.
  22. Duece

    Duece Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    Safechuck and Robson are not acting like people who have been molested.
    MadWun, TENT and Naha-Nago like this.
  23. therealjondoe

    therealjondoe Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    Can't say, maybe they will explain it.
    I know their mind was probably fucked.
    What grown man has boy companions?
    What grown man sleeps in beds with boys?
    What grown man has boys living with him?
    Talks on the phone for hours with young boys?
  24. therealjondoe

    therealjondoe Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    Its not just molesting though.
    Mike was their idol.
    Look at Robson that kids whole shit was Mike
    TENT and hussla's paradice like this.
  25. therealjondoe

    therealjondoe Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    When is part 2 airing?
  26. Dr. Truth

    Dr. Truth Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    Nobody thinks it’s strange he was having sleep overs with children? A lot of people had shitty childhoods and fucked up up bringings didn’t do shit like that. Mike was a strange weirdo ass nigga period.
    TruDat and Mt. Yukon like this.
  27. julian

    julian Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    Michael Jackson is guilty so they need to go and arrest him immediately...oh right, Michael Jackson is guilty he needs to taken to court..oh right that already happened and he was found not guilty, Michael Jackson is guilty we need to get 1st accuser to come forward and validate that 1st accusation...oh right he says nothing happened it was all his dad once his dad killed himself,Michael Jackson is guilty so lets wait 7 years after hes dead and then say hes a molester and we cant get jobs in entertainment to now say he did us and we need wait for it...MONEY. I dont know if Jackson did molest kids or not but 2 things I do know 1. All the accusers went for money 1st not justice 2. He is DEAD so what is the purpose of all this other than to create an opportunity to get MONEY. This whole thing is a joke MJ aint making no more music, movies, videos or anything else so that cant be Muted like R Kelly,hes sold over 250 million albums 150 million singles and downloads and made over $2 billion anything else is gravy for his estate,so good luck to these 2 going forward cause they aint getting any of that estate money cause if they had been molested they could have come forward when they had a chance and he was alive. They had decades to come forward and now they do, bullshit.
    richminded, MadWun, alexw and 5 others like this.
  28. alexw

    alexw Unapologetically Afrikan! Platinum Member

    a grown man with a mental illness who believes he's a child
    that does not mean he's a molester
    it means that he thinks of himself as a child

    now back to your hero
    he testified on mike behalf at 23
    he went on jimmy kimmel at 25 and defended mike
    finances got low and oh i had a son and wanted the truth to come out
    so first im going to sue a dead mans estate that has began to boom again
    you cant be this dense
  29. hussla's paradice

    hussla's paradice Chubby Chasing Connoisseur BGOL Investor

    Mike didn't do it.
    That was the Mom's being opportunistic. That's Australian CAC, thought she had a pulse on the culture. She found out the hard way, living in L A. In a trap apartment, and her CAC son with his rectum rearranged.

    Mike is a Legend.
    The Plutonian likes this.
  30. alexw

    alexw Unapologetically Afrikan! Platinum Member

    ahh the lawsuit got thrown out so here comes the documentary money
    man yall cant see a hoax
    shit is sad
    Varis, Naha-Nago, aldoogie and 2 others like this.
  31. Autobot8655

    Autobot8655 Better known as Dr. Munhihausen II BGOL Investor

  32. Duece

    Duece Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    Amajorfucup and julian like this.
  33. julian

    julian Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    The sleepovers thing was always crafted to look like it was MJ in bed with a child. I always took it to be groups of children doing sleepovers playing games eating and other stuff and you had kids sleeping in same room as Jackson. If he was sleeping one on one with boys that is some bullshit but I never heard anyone even the accusers say it was like that.
  34. Dr. Truth

    Dr. Truth Well-Known Member BGOL Investor

    I really don’t care if it was a group sleep over or one on ones. Ain’t no 34 year old man having my kids over to “slumber party”. Who knows what went down when all the kids were asleep.
    Mt. Yukon and Moore like this.
  35. Mr. Met

    Mr. Met So Amazin BGOL Investor

    I was wondering why Janet has been quiet but then again that may be the best strategy right now.


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