Robert de Niro said during an interview today that he regrets removing the controversial documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe from the Tribeca Film Festival schedule, and still believes people should watch the film. De Niro and Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal appeared on the Today Show ahead of the festival’s 15th opening night. While discussing the film, De Niro said it’s “something that people should see”:
There was a backlash, which I haven’t fully explored and I will, but I didn’t want it to start affecting the festival in ways I couldn’t see… But definitely there’s something to that movie, and there’s another movie called Trace Amounts, and there’s a lot of information about things that are happening with the CDC, the pharmaceutical companies, there’s a lot of things that are not said. I, as a parent of a child who has autism, am concerned and I want to know the truth.
Vaxxed argues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covered up a scientific study linking Autism and the Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccine in 2004. The film is directed by Andrew Wakefield, the UK scientist whose disproven 1998 study spread the notion that vaccinations and autism may be linked.
De Niro, who said he personally pushed to show the film at the festival because of his son, announced the documentary had been removed from the festival’s schedule last month after conferring with “the festival team and members of the scientific community.” In the interview, Rosenthal says that festival organizers pulled the film because other entrants, not sponsors, said they would pull their films from the festival if Vaxxed remained on the schedule.
That said, De Niro says he still believes the film has merit as a means of kickstarting a conversation about Autism:
My child is autistic, and every kid is different. But there is something there, there’s something there that people aren’t addressing. For me to get so upset here today, on the TODAY show with you guys, means there’s something there. That’s all I wanted, was for the movie to be seen. People can make their own judgment, but you must see it. There’s other things that just document and show. It’s not a simple thing…I’m not a scientist, but I’ve seen so much reaction of just ‘let’s find out the truth,’ so let’s just find out the truth. I’m not anti-vaccine, but I’m pro-safe vaccine.
Vaxxed is currently in theaters, in limited release. The 2016 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 13 through April 24.
Watch the interview: