Acclaimed Actor Robert De Niro, a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, is defending the festival’s decision to include an anti-vaccination documentary in its 2016 program.
In a statement from Robert DeNiro posted on Tribeca's Facebook page on March 25, DeNiro wrote:
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. 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.
Directed by ex-physician Andrew Wakefield, "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up To Catastrophe," is a documentary that digs into the “long-debated link between autism and vaccines,” according to CNN.
The film uses interviews with pharmaceutical insiders, doctors, politicians, parents and one whistleblower to “understand what’s behind the skyrocketing increase of autism diagnoses today.”
Wakefield's British medical license was taken away after falsifying a study linking the MMR vaccine, for measles, mumps and rubella, to autism, according to the Los Angeles Times. Wakefield’s claims that the two are linked have been discredited in the medical community, but the anti-vaccine movement has not wholly rejected his theory.
Hiltzik finds the Tribeca Film Festival is committing a careless action by screening the documentary, and that it will not contribute to “dialogue and discussion” but “spread misinformation and pseudoscience and undermine public health," the Los Angeles Times reports.