Entertainment & Arts

Vaxxed: Tribeca festival withdraws MMR film

Robert De Niro, file photo Image copyright AP
Image caption The issue is personal for Robert De Niro

New York's Tribeca Film Festival will not show Vaxxed, a controversial film about the MMR vaccine, its founder Robert De Niro says.

As recently as Friday, Mr De Niro stood by his decision to include the film by anti-vaccination activist Andrew Wakefield in next month's festival.

The link the film makes between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism has been widely discredited.

"We have concerns with certain things in this film," said Mr De Niro.

Mr De Niro, who has a child with autism, said he had hoped the film would provide the opportunity for discussion of the issue.

But after reviewing the film with festival organisers and scientists, he said: "We do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for."

Image caption Wakefield published his controversial study in 1998

Vaxxed was directed and co-written by Mr Wakefield, who described it as a "whistle-blower documentary".

In a statement issued following the Tribeca Film Festival's decision, he 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.

Mr 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 furore led to a sharp drop in the number of children being vaccinated against these diseases.

But the study, first published in The Lancet, was later retracted by the medical journal.

Mr Wakefield's research methods were subsequently investigated by the General Medical Council and he was struck off the medical register.

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