Over a year after being programmed — and ultimately pulled — from the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, Andrew Wakefield’s controversial anti-vacciation documentary, “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” has resurfaced at another prestigious film festival.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is set for a “secret” screening during this month’s Cannes Film Festival, where sales company and distributor Cinema Libre will screen it on May 25. Cinema Libre has secured distribution deals for the film in various foreign countries, but is bringing the doc to the Cannes market in hopes of selling it to further international territories.
“We’ve done secret screenings throughout Europe where we don’t announce the location until the day before because there are organized groups of pro-vaccine folks who will mobilize 10-20 people to call the venue that will threaten the venue or get it to change its mind about screening the film,” Beth Portello, Cinema Libre CFO and VP marketing and publicity, told THR.
Cinema Libre released the film in the U.S. in April of 2016, just days after it was removed from the Tribeca Film Festival schedule due to public outcry.
Per THR, “Cinema Libre already has secured distribution deals for the film in Italy (Wanted), Germany (Busch Media), Poland (TVN) and China (Gaia Studios). Deals are pending in Japan, Holland, Israel, Syria, Mexico and South Africa.” The film has also played theatrically in Ireland, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.
“The vaccination debate is as intense in Europe as it is in the U.S.,” Portello told THR. “But the idea that there can’t even be a debate is absurd.”
Wakefield, the film’s director, is a former UK surgeon and medical researcher. He is best known for a 1998 research paper, later declared fraudulent, that claimed a link between vaccination and autism.
After “Vaxxed” was announced as part of the 2016 Tribeca lineup, massive outcry against its content and its embattled director led to the festival pulling it from its schedule. Days later, Cinema Libre picked up the film and rushed it into theaters, where it received mostly poor reviews (including our own Eric Kohn’s), and the film currently sits at a very rotten 33% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.