Los Angeles, March 27 (IANS) The Tribeca Film Festival has pulled a controversial anti-vaccination documentary a day after festival co-founder Robert De Niro publicly defended the decision to show “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe”.
The film festival faced serious backlash for including “Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe” from doctor-turned-documentarian Andrew Wakefield in its line-up. However, De Niro, co-founder of the festival, said that it is necessary to show a film like this. The film was pulled out on Saturday from its schedule next month.
Now things have taken a different turn with De Niro saying that their intention was to initiate a dialogue, which now seems difficult, reports variety.com.
“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.
He added: “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.”
“Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe” is co-written and directed by Wakefield, a former surgeon and medical researcher who published a discredited 1998 research paper that claimed that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to autism.
Wakefield was accused of professional misconduct and falsifying information in that study, and the Lancet, the journal that ran the research, retracted the piece. The British doctor has been barred from practicing medicine in the Britain.
In the face of mounting outrage, De Niro said that he had become concerned about the content of the film.
“The festival doesn’t seek to avoid or shy away from controversy. However, we have concerns with certain things in this film that we feel prevent us from presenting it in the festival program. We have decided to remove it from our schedule,” De Niro said.