It was just last week that we published a story about the proposed premiere of the documentary Vaxxed at the Tribeca Film Festival. In sharing the story on social media, one of our team members, who had diligently been posting to our supporters, practitioner organisations and among groups sympathetic to the cause, found herself barred from posting and sharing on Facebook for 24 hours for ‘nuisance/ abuse’. She had received no complaints directly – just positive and grateful responses. Go figure who controls Facebook and its algorithms.
This week, if you haven’t heard already, we let you know that Robert De Niro et al at Tribeca have pulled the plug.
De Niro’s 2 statements
Initially, when De Niro began to feel the heat, he released a statement about why he and his wife were supporting the film, “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.”
Then a day later, the optimistic mood was suddenly dashed when the news was released that the film had been deselected from Tribeca. De Niro released a second statement “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.”
Vaxxed: Too hot to screen:
It seems the film was simply too hot to screen, and it seems highly likely that Tribeca sponsor, the New York-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, had a big part to play in the decision. The Foundation ostensibly funds films about science – and it seems it likes films that don’t turn the belief system about trusted medicines and vaccines from trusted health authorities on its head.
The problem is, denying people a voice, especially when the voice is about communicating key information that puts into question the validity of public health recommendations made by the likes of the CDC in the USA, amounts to nothing short of censorship. In the USA, Congress can’t prohibit the free exercise or distortion of freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The trouble is, Tribeca is not Congress. Tribeca can do what it likes, unless the public and opinion leaders can change its mind.
A new distributor
As is often the case with censorship, an individual or an organisation will step up to the plate and publish or release the censored material. The great news is that Cinema Libre Studio has done just this. We are told, “The documentary will premiere Friday at the Angelika FiIm Center in New York City. Cinema Libre has not revealed future distribution plans other than saying it will be ‘widely released’ in other cities.” Check out how you can help further with distribution with Cinema Libre in our Call to Action below.
We think that should be the aim – and whether or not all combined efforts are successful is not as important as the ramping up of attention on the issue. It’s not unfeasible that the ban – or no-show – of the film will amount to more attention being given than the showing, followed by a media wash-out.
Wakefield: A diversion for the media
Much of the media so far has focused on Andrew Wakefield’s close involvement with the film. We see a huge ramping up of efforts by the media to associate the film with a supposedly ‘disgraced’ Andrew Wakefield. Those who apportion this attribute to Wakefield’s name generally know little about how the UK’s General Medical Council managed to strike this wholly competent doctor, gastroenterologist and researcher from the medical register. Most have also not kept pace with the increasing evidence that points to the potential for the MMR vaccine (among other environmental insults) being a likely trigger for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
What’s more, the film is actually about key issues involving reported untoward events at the CDC, CDC whistleblower scientist Dr William Thompson, and a CDC MMR study. It seems Dr Wakefield is a very convenient distraction from this.
Watch ABC News clip from 26 March 2016, followed by interview with Vaxxed producer, Del Bigtree.
Call to Action
Here’s what you can do to help:
- Register your interest in VAXXED by subscribing on the film’s website: http://www.vaxxedthemovie.com
- Those in New York can support viewings and Q/A sessions arranged by the film distributor Cinema Libre Studio, on the 1st through to the 7th April at the Angelika Film Centre
- Cinema Libre is proposing to distribute Vaxxed widely in other US cities
- Sign the petition calling for Tribeca to reinstate the film at the Tribeca Film Festival
- Email Tribeca: firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know how you feel about their withdrawal of the film
- Contact Tribeca sponsor, the Alfred P. Sloane Foundation, and let them know how you feel about what amounts to censorship given the decision to not screen Vaxxed at Tribeca
- If you are interested in getting the film shown in your own community, contact the film distributor Cinema Libre Studios and let them know
- Write letters to the editor of any newspapers, websites, TV programs or other media that release stories in support of Tribeca’s decision to not screen Vaxxed. Emphasise why you believe publicising information about CDC’s cover-up over links between MMR and autism (the central subject of the documentary) is of critical importance to the public interest.
- Share share share on social media!