Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Robert De Niro defended his desire to screen the controversial documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe” during an appearance on the Today Show Wednesday.
Discussing the ultimate decision to pull the film – which presents the case for a link between autism and vaccines – De Niro alongside festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal held firm that he still wanted viewers to see the movie, despite the fact it will no longer run at the festival.
“I think the movie is 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 these movies… 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.
“And I’m not anti-vaccine; I want safe vaccines.
De Niro goes on to say he may possibly become part of the vaccine-autism discussion following the film’s fallout and after coming out publicly regarding his 18-year-old son’s disorder.
“The thing is if they shut it down… there’s no reason to… If you’re scientists, let’s see… let’s hear. Everybody doesn’t seem to want to hear much about it; It’s shut down,” the actor says before telling the Today Show hosts that “You guys are the ones [that should be] investigating, do the investigating.”
Discussing another film about a family living with an autistic child entitled, “Life Animated,” De Niro lamented, “It’s a beautiful film, but it’s another thing… it’s the result of. It’s not questioning how some people got autism, how the vaccines are dangerous to certain people who are more susceptible.
“And nobody seems to want to address that, or they say they’ve addressed it and it’s a closed issue, but it doesn’t seem to be because there are many people who will come out and say, ‘No, I saw my kid change overnight. I saw what happened, and I should have done something and I didn’t.’ So there’s more to this than meets the eye.”
“There’s something there that people aren’t addressing,” De Niro says, “and 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 the movie to be seen, people can make their own judgement, but you must see it.”
Asked whether he regretted pulling the film, the Taxi Driver star says “part of him” did, but that another part of him said, “Let it go for now and I’ll deal with it later in another way.”
Describing the decision to pull the movie as a “knee-jerk reaction,” the actor also went on to reveal he was disappointed in filmmakers taking part in the festival who spoke out against “Vaxxed.”
“I didn’t want the festival to be affected in a way, because it was a knee-jerk reaction, especially from the filmmakers, frankly… Whoever they were, I didn’t even want to ask, but now I will ask.”
Before the film was pulled, critics claimed the documentary would undermine the festival’s and its participants’ integrity, with one film maker going as far as to predict that showing the film could potentially kill people.
“The anti-vaccination hoax has been completely discredited by now,” said documentary film maker Penny Lane, according to The Guardian. “Very possibly, some people will walk away from your festival having been convinced, in part because of your good name and the excellence and integrity of your documentary programming, not to vaccinate their children. And very possibly people will die as a result.”
When asked about the near “consensus in the scientific community” that there’s no link between vaccines and autism, De Niro insisted “I believe it’s much more complicated than that. There is a link.”
“They’re saying there isn’t [a link], but there is certain things. The obvious one is thimerosal, which is a mercury-based preservative, but there are other things there – I don’t know i’m not a scientist, but I know because I’ve seen so much reaction…”
“Let’s just find out the truth,” De Niro concluded.
Following news the film would not be shown at Tribeca, organizers of the WorldFest international film festival in Houston, Texas, revealed to Infowars that “high government officials” had threatened them over the “Vaxxed” documentary and that they had no choice but to drop the film.