Tribeca Film Festival has withdrawn Vaxxed, a controversial film about the MMR vaccine, festival founder Robert De Niro announces.
On March 25, Robert De Niro stood by his decision to include Vaxxed by anti-vaccination activist Andrew Wakefield in next month’s festival.
The link Vaxxed makes between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism has been widely discredited.
Robert De Niro, who has a child with autism, said he had hoped the documentary would provide the opportunity for discussion of the issue.
However, after reviewing the documentary with festival organizers and scientists, the actor said: “We do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”
Vaxxed was directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, who described it as a “whistle-blower documentary”.
In a statement issued following the Tribeca Film Festival’s decision, Andrew Wakefield and the film’s producer Del Bigtree said that “we have just witnessed yet another example of the power of corporate interests censoring free speech, art and truth”.
The British doctor was the lead author of a controversial study published in 1998, which argued there might be a link between MMR and autism and bowel disease.
Andrew Wakefield suggested that parents should opt for single jabs against mumps, measles and rubella instead of the three-in-one vaccine.
His comments and the subsequent media furor led to a sharp drop in the number of children being vaccinated against these diseases.
The study, first published in The Lancet, was later retracted by the medical journal.
Andrew Wakefield was subsequently found guilty of fraud by the General Medical Council and struck off the medical register.