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Robert De Niro pulls anti-vaccination film from Tribeca festival

Published 27/03/2016

Robert De Niro initially defended the inclusion of Vaxxed in the festival (AP)
Robert De Niro initially defended the inclusion of Vaxxed in the festival (AP)

Robert De Niro has axed the anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed from the line-up of his Tribeca Film Festival, after initially defending its inclusion.

Vaxxed: From Cover-up To Conspiracy, was due to be part of the New York film festival when it opened next month.

The decision to include the film by anti-vaccination activist Andrew Wakefield had come under fire, particularly since his contention that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine has a link to autism have been discredited.

On Friday, Hollywood star De Niro defended the decision to include the film, but later released a statement saying he had reversed his decision.

De Niro, who has a child with autism, said he had hoped to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue "that is deeply personal to me and my family".

But he said that after he and Tribeca organisers reviewed it, "we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for". He said members of the scientific community had also reviewed it with him.

"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 programme," he added.

Wakefield, who directed the film, and Del Bigtree, its producer, condemned De Niro's decision, saying they did not have a chance to defend themselves against the film's critics.

"We have just witnessed yet another example of the power of corporate interests censoring free speech, art and truth," they said in a statement.

"Tribeca's action will not succeed in denying the world access to the truth behind the film Vaxxed."

The festival runs from April 13 to 24 in Lower Manhattan.

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