Last week, Robert De Niro tried really hard to defend his decision to screen an anti-vaccination documentary by noted anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield called Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Robert DeNiro confessed that he and his wife, Grace Hightower De Niro, are parents to an autistic son, and that Vaxxed was very personal to him. He claimed that the reason he pushed for Vaxxed to be included in this year’s film festival was because he was hoping it would promote a “discussion.” He followed that up by claiming that he wasn’t personally endorsing the film and that he isn’t an anti-vaxxer, two statements that made everyone reach for their “Why the fuck you lying?” memes.
However, it sounds like the majority of the conversations started by Vaxxed began with the words “Bobby NO“, because Robert De Niro has gone and erased it from the festival lineup. Robert De Niro released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter about pulling Vaxxed.
“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. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.
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 program. We have decided to remove it from our schedule.”
He doesn’t get into what those “concerns” were. But I’m going to guess one of them was whether or not the Tribeca Film Festival website had enough space on their servers to handle all the “friendly” reminders that vaccines don’t cause autism that they’d be sure to get if they kept it in the documentary category.
Poor Robert De Niro though. How busted does a movie have to be that you can’t even get it screened at your own film festival? I suppose if he still really wanted it to be shown, he could invent a special category for it. “And the award for Best Feature-Length Film Based On An Email Forward Or Rambling Facebook Post goes to...”