Last month the 15th annual Tribeca Film Festival kicked off to much success, yet controversy sparked when the anti-vaccine documentary “Vaxxed” was in the screening lineup. The film was eventually pulled from the schedule after a handful of filmmakers threatened to pull their films out if it was screened.
In a new interview with Vulture at Cannes, Robert De Niro discussed the documentary’s controversy, how he didn’t understand why people wouldn’t want the film to be shown and how he’s also working on his own vaccine project with Harvey Weinstein.
“What I learned, first of all, there was a big reaction, which I didn’t see coming, and it was from filmmakers — supposedly, I have yet to find out who it was,” expressed the “Hands of Stone” actor. “I wanted to just know who they were, because to me there was no reason not to see the movie.”
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“Vaxxed” is directed by Andrew Wakefield, former UK surgeon and medical researcher known for his 1998 research paper that claimed a link between vaccination and autism. The research was later declared fraudulent. The controversial topic let to outcries from filmmakers against the project, ultimately leading to its removal from the festival.
“The movie is not hurting anybody. It says something. It said something to me that was valid. Maybe some things were inaccurate, but if the movie was 20 percent accurate, it was worth seeing,” said De Niro. “And they were saying it’s because of the filmmaker and he was discredited, but how was he discredited? By the medical establishment? There’s a lot going on that I still don’t understand, but it makes me question the whole thing, and the whole vaccine issue is a real one. It’s big money. So it did get attention. I was happy about that,” he added.
The actor has been vocal about his disapproval of the removal of the film before, while he is not anti-vaccine, he does want safe-vaccines and to open people’s eyes to something greater.
“Something is there with vaccines, because they’re not tested in some ways the way other medicines are, and they’re just taken for granted and mandated in some states,” he explained. “And people do get sick from it. Not everybody, but certain people are sensitive, like anything, penicillin.”
So, in light of all this, he is now teaming up with one of the top film execs to get the true story out there.
“I’m working on something else,” De Niro said. “Harvey Weinstein and I are working on doing a documentary, but I don’t what to talk much about it, because when I talk about it, something happens. But that’s what we plan to try to do.”
For more De Niro, see him in the trailer for his upcoming film “Hands of Stone,” in theaters on August 26.