A controversial film that accuses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of covering up the link between vaccines and rising autism rates has been pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival after its inclusion sparked outrage.

A day after he defended the decision to screen the documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” festival co-founder Robert De Niro announced in a statement Saturday that he reversed course after reviewing the film with colleagues and experts.

“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,” the statement said. “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.”

Deadline Hollywood reported that filmmakers have accused Tribeca officials of engaging in censorship.

“To our dismay, we learned today about the Tribeca Film Festival’s decision to reverse the official selection of ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,'” director Andrew Wakefield and producer Del Bigtree said.

“It is our understanding that persons from an organization affiliated with the festival have made unspecified allegations against the film,” the statement continued. “We have just witnessed yet another example of the power of corporate interests censoring free speech, art, and truth. Tribeca’s action will not succeed in denying the world access to the truth behind the film ‘Vaxxed.’ “

The film is directed and co-written by Wakefield, a polarizing anti-vaccination activist and onetime gastroenterologist whose medical license was revoked by Britain’s General Medical Council, according to CBS News. Wakefield is also the author of a widely discounted study – published in the medical journal the Lancet, in 1998 – that was retracted in 2010. Studies from the independent, nonprofit Institute of Medicine, the World Health Organization and the CDC have discredited the notion that a link exists between vaccines and developing autism spectrum disorder, according to the Huffington Post.

The substantial evidence explains why the decision to screen the film drew intense scrutiny from medical experts.

On Friday, De Niro released a statement explaining his decision to screen the film next month, but he noted that he was “not personally endorsing the film” and is not “anti-vaccination.”


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