An ex-medical researcher’s documentary that links vaccines and autism was pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, event founder and actor Robert De Niro said.
The British researcher-turned-director had been drawing protests on his ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-UP to Catastrophe’ film. Allowing the movie in the festival made a ‘statement’; that organizers sided with the anti-vaccine movement.
“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, who has a child with autism, said in a statement.
“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.”
Andrew Wakefield, the film’s director, wrote a paper in 1998 claiming the relationship between MMR vaccine and autism. Papers and research like this have set off the anti-vaccine movement; medical professionals say people believing the movement has led to outbreaks of preventable childhood diseases like measles.
The British General Medical Council’s inquiry and investigation found Wakefield had acted “dishonestly” in publishing his results. British medical journal The Lancet pulled Wakefield’s study from their publication, saying parts were falsified.
Wakefield has been barred from practicing medicine in Britain.
“The festival doesn’t seek to avoid or shy away from controversy,” De Niro said.
“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.”