Anti-Vaccination Movie Pulled From Tribeca Film Festival Lineup

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
The Tribeca Film Festival has pulled the anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe from its lineup. Festival cofounder Robert De Niro initially defended TFF's decision to screen the film, but according to the Hollywood Reporter, by Saturday afternoon, he'd changed his mind.

“My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family," De Niro said in a statement sent to THR. "But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for."

The film is by Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who published the now completely discredited 1998 study linking vaccination to autism and who since had his medical license revoked in the U.K. When the lineup for the Tribeca festival, which runs from April 13 to 24, was first announced, many protested, because the anti-vaccination movement spawned by Wakefield's work has had disastrous consequences to public health. De Niro's initial response was to claim personal responsibility for the decision, because though he is not opposed to vaccination, he has a child with autism.
"In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming," De Niro said in a statement on Friday, according to Deadline. "However, this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening Vaxxed. I am not personally endorsing the film, nor am I anti-vaccination; I am only providing the opportunity for a conversation around the issue."

Following the announcement that the film was being pulled from the festival, Wakefield and the film's producer posted a response on their website. "It is our understanding that persons from an organization affiliated with the festival have made unspecified allegations against the film, claims that we were given no opportunity to challenge or redress. We were denied due process. We have just witnessed yet another example of the power of corporate interests censoring free speech, art, and truth."

Read Refinery29's earlier article on the movie for more on why that statement doesn't exactly ring true.

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