After initially supporting an anti-vaccination documentary, Robert De Niro and the Tribeca Film Festival decided to pull the film from the 2016 line-up over the weekend.
The film in question, "VAXXED: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe" is written and directed by Andrew Wakefield, a former doctor and an anti-vaccination activist who authored the now-debunked study linking vaccinations to autism.
The effects of Wakefield's widely discredited 1998 study still linger. For example, it is being linked to the measles outbreak in the United States last year.
Wakefield was eventually revoked of his medical license in 2010 for falsifying the study, which was retracted the same year. The documentary covers the same territory as the study.
Robert De Niro, who co-founded Tribeca in 2002, initially supported having the film in the New York festival this year. For De Niro, this was a personal cause. One of his six kids has autism.
"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," he said in a statement on March 25.
This, however, ignited a social media storm, leading De Niro and team to reevaluate the film. In a statement issued the next day, De Niro announced the withdrawal of the film from the festival lineup after consulting with his team and the scientific community.
"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... we do not believe [the film] contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for," De Niro said in a statement on March 26.
The festival runs from April 13th to April 24th.
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