Michael Jackson: New Documentary To Premiere At Sundance

Film director and writer Spike Lee’s new Michael Jackson documentary is slated to debut at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off next month.

Essence reports that Lee’s new documentary, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall, will debut at the popular festival in Park City, Utah, in January. The documentary will give a glimpse of the King of Pop that’s different from the numerous previous documentaries about him.

According to the director of programming for the Sundance Film Festival, Trevor Groth, “The film focuses on his drive and commitment. What a hard worker he was, not just on how talented he was. It looks at when he transitioned from the Jackson Five into a solo career. For fans, I think it’s going to play through the roof. And not fans, they’re going to be fascinated.”

Lee revisits Jackson’s journey into superstardom by starting from the singer’s early days and onto the creation of the 1979 album Off the Wall, Jackson’s first solo album after he left Motown. Focusing primarily on Off the Wall, the documentary will show rare footage and interviews of Jackson and the people who supported him throughout his efforts with the album, which later gave the world smash hits such as “Rock With You” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”

This isn’t the first Michael Jackson documentary directed by Spike Lee. In 2013, Lee directed Bad 25, a documentary that centers around the 25th anniversary of Jackson’s 1987 Bad album. Lee also directed the video for the 1996 song “They Don’t Care About Us.” Jackson himself called Lee to help with the music video, but Lee, thinking someone was pranking him, hung up on The King of Pop at least twice. The pair eventually met up after the error was sorted out, and Lee recalls that Jackson was enthusiastic and easy to work with.

“I said, ‘Mike, let’s go to Brazil to do this.’ And he said, ‘Let’s go, Spike!’ And it’s great when you work with people who say stuff like that.”

Jackson and Lee traveled to both Rio de Janeiro and Salvador to film the music video, during a time when drugs were a heavy part of the area. Claudia Silva, the press liaison for the Rio De Janeiro’s tourist office, stated that Jackson visiting the area helped stop the abundance of drug activity.

“There are no drug dealers anymore, and there’s a massive social project. But all the attention started with Michael Jackson.”

Lee was to originally follow up Bad 25 with a second Jackson documentary entitled Brooklyn Loves MJ. At the time however, in 2009, the director was still trying to put together funding for the film while fans and loved ones mourned Jackson’s untimely death. Brooklyn Loves MJ was renamed Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall years later.

Variety reports that along with Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall, the Sundance Festival will also feature an impressive lineup of new films, some that include The Girlfriend Experience (Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz), Resilience (James Redford), Maya AngelouAnd Still I Rise (Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack), and the almost 8-hour documentary O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman).

The Sundance Film Festival, a 10-day event, kicks off on January 21. To see the premiere of Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall, as well as numerous other films, visit the official Sundance ticket information page.

[Photo Courtesy of AP Photo/Nick Ut]