Just days after defending his decision to include a controversial film into the Tribeca Film Festival, the festival's founder, actor Robert De Niro, is going against his word. The film has been highly controversial over the past few weeks when it was announced that De Niro would include the film in the festival. The film, Vaxxed, an anti-vaccine film has been canceled from the Tribeca Film Festival schedule for a very smart reason.
The film is about a very controversial yet highly disputed topic that would do the festival more harm than good, according to De Niro. De Niro released this statement on the decision to remove Vaxxed from the festival's line up:
"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.
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."
The film's trailer looks more like a horror film than a documentary, with autism at the antagonist rather than a demon haunting an innocent family.
The trailer still has "2016 Tribeca Film Festival Official Selection" as one of the title cards in its trailer, but that will likely change very soon given the news. The Tribeca Film Festival took the film off its website and, one would think, might probably ask the film to remove the Film Festival's information from their website as well.
According to the documentary's website, the film is about the link between vaccines and autism — which has been widely and thoroughly discredited — but told from an insider's perspective. Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who directed the film, was "falsely accused of starting the anti-vaccine movement in 1998 when he first reported that the MMR vaccine may cause autism."
What Wakefield fails to include in that statement was that he was barred from practicing medicine in 2010 after his study was discredited. His actions amounted to "serious professional misconduct" and his medical license was taken away.
There seems to be a mixed reaction from Twitter on the removal of the film from the festival.
Some people are happy with the film festival's decision while others feel like the other side of the vaccine controversy needs to be spoken.
De Niro had originally defended the film being in the film festival on Friday. De Niro released a statement Friday morning, defending his choice for putting the film in the film festival for the sake of conversation. "I am not personally endorsing the film, nor am I anti-vaccination; I am only providing the opportunity for a conversation around the film." Here's to not just wanting to foster conversation, but strictly wanting those conversations to be constructive and scientifically valid.