Film partnerships News

Front Row and Cinema Akil team up to screen Leaving Neverland

Michael Jackson on tour.

Front Row Filmed Entertainment has partnered with Dubai-based independent cinema venue, Cinema Akil, to screen Leaving Neverland, the controversial Michael Jackson documentary, for three days only at Warehouse 68. The screening is part of Cinema Akil’s brand new discussion driven programme ‘Debatable’.

Screenings will take place on April 24 (7 pm), Wednesday; 27 April, Saturday (2.00 pm along with a discussion) and Wednesday, May 1 (7 pm). Details about screenings will be available on Cinema Akil’s web site.

Front Row secured the complete MENA distribution rights to Leaving Neverland in February this year at the European Film Market Berlin. The deal was signed by Front Row’s CEO Gianluca Chakra, and Acquisitions and Marketing Director, Elie Touma.

Leaving Neverland is a two-part documentary that explores the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James “Jimmy” Safechuck, at age ten, and Wade Robson, at age seven, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson. They and their families were invited into his wondrous world, entranced by the singer’s fairy-tale existence as his career reached its peak.

Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck, now 37, and Robson, now 41, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, Leaving Neverland crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had a young son of their own.

Leaving Neverland recently had its world premiere in the Special Events section at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival; earning a multitude of early critical rave reviews. Global interest in the documentary by BAFTA-winning director Dan Reed has been fierce with Kew Media selling rights into 130 territories including; HBO across Latin America, Network Ten in Australia and Fox Networks Group in Asia.

Speaking about the deal, Chakra stated: “We have never distributed anything that’s been so divisive yet so talked about since probably Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. I’m thrilled to be teaming up with Cinema Akil on screening a film that poses so many questions on so many different levels. There is no doubt that Michael Jackson is and will always remain an undisputed talent; however, the circumstances surrounding him and his relationships with young boys have always been unclear. What the #MeToo movement has taught us is that alleged victims must be allowed to tell their stories and Leaving Neverland is indeed the case. It is powerful and unforgettable.”

Butheina Kazim, Founder and Managing Director of Cinema Akil added: “Debatable is a brand new discussion-based programme under which Cinema Akil presents films that bring up difficult conversations and allow audiences the chance to express their views openly in a safe environment. We have invited a panel of speakers from across the spectrum of opinions on the film to drive the evening and will include an open forum segment of the discussion for the audience to weigh in. The Debatable films do not necessarily reflect the views of Cinema Akil.”

The programme will be moderated by Film critic William Mullally with panelists Reem Hameed, co-host of The Dukkan Show; Andre Neveling, Editor of Ahlan Magazine and Bill Bragin, Artistic Director at the NYUAD Arts Centre.