UPDATE (3/26/16): Deadline reports that Robert De Niro has reversed his decision to screen the anti-vaccination film at the Tribeca Film Festival. After some deliberation, De Niro decided that the film doesn't further the discussion on vaccinations in the way he had hoped. In an official statement, De Niro said: "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."
See original story from 3/26/16 below.
With the Tribeca Film Festival right around the corner, festival founder and renowned actor Robert De Niro has come under some heat for holding a screening of Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, a documentary film written and directed by the controversial anti-vaccination activist Andrew Wakefield.
Back in 1998 Wakefield published a study in a British medical journal that made some pretty big connections between vaccinations and autism. Wakefield's work was then discredited and his study was retracted from the journal in 2010. In addition, his medical license was revoked by Britain's General Medical Counsel.
Still, Tribeca decided to screen his film and failed to mention in the brief summary of the documentary that Wakefield no longer has his license or that his work had been removed from the journal. All it says is that he is a "controversial figure." Following public outcry, De Niro released a statement that shows his beliefs on vaccinations to be pretty ambiguous. Yesterday evening a statement from the actor was posted to Tribeca's Facebook page. He said:
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.
While De Niro may not be revealing his exact stance on vaccinations, his choice to have the film screened is clearly a pretty huge and upsetting move to many.