Robert DeNiro responds to anti-vaccination movie controversy

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The Tribeca Film Festival is facing serious backlash for including anti-vaccination documentary "Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe" from doctor-turned-documentarian Andrew Wakefield into its 2016 lineup.

Wakefield is a fervent believer in the link between vaccination and autism. He has also been the subject of many controversies, including being accused of professional misconduct and falsifying information as early as 1998 in one of his research papers. Wakefield's bio on the festival's page for the documentary mentions the research paper and study but not that it was later discredited.

Many called for a response about the festival's decision. Robert DeNiro, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, defended the choice to include the film, even though he doesn't endorse the content.

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Robert DeNiro responds to anti-vaccination movie controversy
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: Robert De Niro (R) and Grace Hightower attend the SNL 40th Anniversary Celebration at Rockefeller Plaza on February 15, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Robert De Niro attends the 2014 Robert F. Kennedy Ripple Of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Honoree Robert De Niro speaks onstage during the RFK Ripple Of Hope Gala at Hilton Hotel Midtown on December 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for RFK Ripple Of Hope)
ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 17: Robert De Niro attends the Remembering The Artist Robert De Niro Conference at Maxxi Museum on November 17, 2014 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 17: Robert De Niro attends the Remembering The Artist Robert De Niro Press Conference at Maxxi Museum on November 17, 2014 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 28: Actor Robert DeNiro is seen on October 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by NCP/Star Max/GC Images)
NEW YORK NY - OCTOBER 18: Robert De Niro sighting on October 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: 'Once Upon A Time In America' cast member Robert De Niro attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Robert De Niro attends 2014 Atlantic Council's Global Citizen Awards at Natural History Museum on September 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Robert DeNiro, Anne Hathaway filming Nancy Meyer's 'The Intern' on September 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Sands/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 26: Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway film on the set of 'The Intern' on August 26, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Sands/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Actor Robert De Niro on the set of 'The Intern' on July 8, 2014 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: Ruby Kushner and Robert De Niro on the set of 'The Intern' on June 26, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23: Actors Robert De Niro and Linda Lavin on the set of 'The Intern' on June 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23: Actor Robert De Niro on the set of 'The Intern' on June 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23: Robert De Niro is seen filming The Intern in Park Slope, Brooklyn on June 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Alessio Botticelli/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro speak onstage at Spike TV's 'Don Rickles: One Night Only' on May 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Spike TV)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 02: Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower attend a screening of the HBO documentary 'Remembering The Artist, Robert De Niro, Sr.' hosted by POLITICO at the Longview Gallery on May 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alexander Morozov/Getty Images)
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"Grace 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."

His statement spurred more negative reactions on Twitter, many questioning his decision to include such a controversial film if he in fact doesn't support the anti-vaccination movement.

Including the film has prompted some to categorized the festival's decision as "irresponsible" and called out the film for being "dishonest" and "one-sided" in its message.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no link between vaccination and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, in a statement on the org's website says "vaccines are very important" and "parents must make the decision whether to vaccinate their children."

He adds that, "If parents decide not to vaccinate they must be aware of the consequences in their community and their local schools."

The film premieres on April 24 at the Tribeca Film Festival, which will include a conversation with the filmmakers after the screening.

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