Tribeca Film Festival co-founder and esteemed actor/producer Robert De Niro is making headline news for a recent decision he made, and subsequently reversed, to include the controversial film ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe‘ as an official selection in the Festival’s line-up. Initially, De Niro pushed to screen Vaxxed stating, “Grace and I have a child with autism and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined.” He added, “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. 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.” However, his decision was short-lived, and a day later De Niro released another statement: “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… 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.”
Read on to see the trailer for Vaxxed and to learn more about the controversy surrounding it.
Directed by activist and former doctor Andrew Wakefield, whose study which linked autism to childhood vaccines was published in The Lancet in 1998, but was then retracted and deemed an ‘elaborate fraud,’ ‘Vaxxed,’ follows information provided by senior scientist and CDC whistleblower Dr. William Thompson who states that the “CDC had omitted crucial data in their final report that revealed a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism.”
Many are arguing that Wakefield should not be given the platform to screen his controversial film, and that showing it would be irresponsible at best. But others, like De Niro himself initially, touted the film’s content as a conversation that should be had.
Lead image via Flickr