Robert De Niro's TriBeCa film festival under fire for showing anti-vaccination documentary

The actor reveals his personal reasons for screening the problematic movie

An anti-vaccination documentary is scheduled to be screened at this year's TriBeCa Film Festival, which has garnered some huge negative reactions.

The festival, which was established by actor Robert De Niro among others, will show Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, which is directed by former doctor Andrew Wakefield, who published a fraudulent paper on the subject which linked vaccinations to autism. Wakefield was later stripped of his medical license for abusing developmentally challenged children.

Penny Lane, another documentary film-maker who has previously directed Nuts!, which focused on medical fraud, wrote an open letter to De Niro and the other organisers of the festival, which included the statement: "There is a big difference between advocacy and fraud, between point of view and deception. For you to claim there is no difference, and for you to screen this film, perpetuates Wakefield’s fraud."

De Niro has since responded to the situation with a statement of his own: "Grace [Hightower, De Niro's wife] and I have a child with autism and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined. In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming. However this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening Vaxxed. I am not personally endorsing the film, nor am I anti-vaccination; I am only providing the opportunity for a conversation around the issue.”