VAXXED, CLIFF and THRUSSELL: How a cancelled film was everything about consequences of poor decision making and nothing about freedom of speech.

So it looks like ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe’ by Andrew Wakefield is finally going to get an Australian film festival premiere care of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF). For good measure the notorious documentary the Red Pill (named after the matrix like epiphany Elam had when “his mother tried to force him to take his diarrhoea medicine”) will also be thrown into the mix – a favourite of the alt-right/milo-gamergate trolls/Men’s Rights MovementGreat use of platform for free speech. Last years tagline for MUFF was “Make the Australian Film Industry Great Again” so it’s great that two mediocre films from the States get a platform at a festival promoting an “alternative Australian cinema”. Must be the ideas in them? Or cynically tying to generate a controversy? Vanity alt-right side show? If it’s all of them then it’s a win-win for Richard, but seriously, what is the deal with anti-vaxxers and Trump?

Richard Wolstencroft the director of the festival is a self described Trump supporter/alt righter listed as a Contributing Editor for Alternative Right blog “founding site of the alt-right”/“transcendental fascist”/Alexandr Dugin acolytehangs out with Q Society with a penchant for threatening legal action for people who criticise him and blocking people who disagree with him on social media after doing a dummy spit like a “snowflake”:

I feel like you are stalking me, you silly cunt. Fuck off Dickhead. You got a bug up ya ass that has nothing to do with me. Piss off.

He seems to thrive off controversy, attempting to play a film by Nazi/ Holocaust denier/Hitler apologist and thoroughly discredited historian David Irving back in 2003.

This post is in response to hearing that David Thrussell, musician/anti vaxxer/Sandy Hook massacre denialist will be at MUFF – “The Golden Age of Censorship’ Curated by David Thrussell (Nikki Valentini)”. It might not surprise you that Thrussell and Richard Wolstencroft are friends:

Richard’s friend musician David Thrussell, who is a leftist but agrees with Richard most of the time

This post is also a response to hearing that the festival chose to premiere Vaxxed.  Thrussell tried to play Vaxxed last year at a film festival he was running. The film was cancelled because sponsors/artists were pulling out, but Thrussell deceptively framed it as a free speech issue – which might be repeated at MUFF. I wanted to preempt Thrussell (and others) who use the false ‘free speech’ narrative that they were being deprived of free speech, which as I predicted last year, is being used as propaganda to make them look like victims of censorship and the issue about free speech – when it’s not. The indomitable Reasonable Hank catalogs the use of this technique:

Dorey: We had two screenings that were cancelled because of threats against the theatres where the screening were being held.

Jessica Lodge: And the group is expecting there’ll be even more to come.

This claim is one of Dorey’s stock-standard PR tools. The problem with this claim is that there is absolutely no evidence backing her claims about the theatre having received threats. The theatre in question is the Castlemaine Theatre, in Victoria. The lie that the theatre received threats was first told by Castlemaine Film Festival organiser – and antivaxer and Sandy Hook hoaxer – David Thrussell.  It was untrue then and it is untrue now.

They could have played the film, no one was depriving them of free speech. Companies and people withdrew their support and some critiqued the decision to play the film.

This post is a reminder of what happened last year at the Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival (CLIFF) because its due again this year and who knows how the Vaxxed situation will be exploited or if there were any lessons learned (i.e. don’t burn the good will of the community).


Sixth of May 2016. A comment is posted on the public Facebook page of ‘Bring Vaxxed to Australia/New Zealand’:

I run a small film festival in Castlemaine Victoria and we are very interested to show this film. (CLIFF – cliff.net.au) We are working on contacts now for the film.. Will keep you posted..

I recently saw the film in NY and it is very worth seeing…!

The president of the anti-vaxx group (and and deceptively called) Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Tasha David replies:

Pm’ed you

Thus started the most controversial film of Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival’s (CLIFF) history that would end in it being pulled and the director of the film saying that the reason for that decision was state enabled terrorism and other claims from CLIFF organisers of “well funded hackers” and a “deep pocketed” campaign.

 


At a meeting of the organising committee for the Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival (CLIFF) two members (one of which was the director of the festival, David Thrussell) recommended a film called Vaxxed to be programmed. One of the members of the committee was against it (on artistic grounds) others hadn’t seen it but went along with the recommendation to screen it in the name of free speech.

The film was billed as “Premiere Screening with an Introduction from the Director and Producer”. Thrussell knew this was going to be big, he said he wanted to play it because of what happened at Tribeca film festival which cancelled the film after sponsors and directors threaten to pull out of the festival.

Unsurprisingly when word got out that Vaxxed was going to have its first screening at a film festival in Australia, using the good will of a community festival to legitimise it by being premiered at CLIFF, there was disbelief followed by criticism.

The Australian Medical Association Director Dr Michael Gannon said the film is “made by a charlatan…. someone who’s been entirely discredited by the scientific world,” Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said it’s “unsafe, unhelpful and scientifically wrong,” and the Public Health Association of Australia chief executive Michael Moore labels the film “a fraudulent piece of lobbying.” These credible voices were joined by bloggers, physicians, nurses and commentators along with community members raising their voice to condemn the decision to play and legitimise the film. Some sponsors pulled out and some directors threatened to walk.

CLIFF had some options and at first responded in the worst way by doubling down and defending the film as “public interest” because Thrussell said “it raised legitimate questions” while they went into  hyper damage control:

What followed was a social media train wreck, which was played out in an attempt to erase questions of organiser bias, which would cast doubt on CLIFF’s attempt to appear to be merely a disinterested player; a provocateur of uneasy discourse.

They deleted their twitter handle, they deleted their page on the CLIFF web site that had the organisers bios and some members deleted their previously public Facebook pages. However, it was shown that two members of CLIFF had posted anti-vaccination posts on Facebook and were heavily involved with conspiracy theories (such as Sandy Hook School shooting denialism).

CLIFF’s first statement was from Andrew Wakefield care of the offical CLIFF Facebook account saying that “worst fraud in medical history” had taken place followed by a media release, on the the 22nd of September, as reported in Film Ink, here is CLIFF gloating about the controversy:

What can’t be contained however is people’s desire to see the film, and given this controversy, that will eventually happen in much greater numbers.

… important contribution to presenting information about this issue

Many of the sponsors exercised their freedom of speech by leaving the festival: Waller Realty Castlemaine, Lisa Chesters MP, The She Oak, Maxi IGA all disappeared from the official website. Interestingly Melbourne Underground Film Festival run by Richard Wolstencroft chose not to part ways with CLIFF – he also said that the Theme for MUFF about Censorship came about when “David Thrussell and I came up with it whilst whittling away on some wood at his country compound.”

A few days after the initial reaction and panic the committee had a meeting where they decided to not screen the film as part of CLIFF. The media release doubled down on vague threats and didn’t mention that CLIFF wasn’t really prepared to take the heat, wreck a film festival credibility and weren’t unified behind the film. They write that they were “forced” but the weasel words hides the fact that the committee solely made the decision and no one “forced” them to cancel it. The media release is a work of cognitive dissonance highlighting the importance of the screening “Australian premiere screening” and downplays the reaction “entirely unnecessary furore” and blames a well orchestrated campaign of intimidation. Thrussell explains the decision to a local radio station “I don’t know, its been highly co-ordinated and very nasty and I suspect very deep pocketed because its clearly been a professional campaign.” By saying this red herring he has sidestepped the criticism from health experts, the health minister and from the community. This auto-response of protecting ideas from being challenged is a classic hallmark of conspiratorial thinking – the thing is I’m not sure Thrussell is even aware that he’s doing it.

citizens

The same day it was pulled another screening was promoted at the same venue by a mysterious new group called the Citizens for Freedom Film Festival, it is likely that this group involved the main actors that originally wanted the film. I’ll assume that this was because there were many tickets sold already and that this was going to be the biggest selling film at the festival.

One of the CLIFF organisers felt emboldened enough – even after publicly canceling the film citing a “highly co-ordinated abuse and intimidation” and “hacking” to post on the anti-vaxx supporters page of the film ‘Bring Vaxxed to Australia/New Zealand’ to help the debate:

Please support Castlemaine Local and International film festival publicly as much as you can. It does good for the public debate..

In other words help with the anti-vaccine message through support of CLIFF’s actions. People compiled with many prominent anti-vaxx campaigners converging in the comment sections of the CLIFF page and writing blog posts – perpetuating the myth of threats of violence such as a this “wow this is in Australia…a threat to bomb if a movies is shown to the public about Vaccines.” The Redherring worked anti-vaxx dog whistle was working.

Here’s a small sample to show the tenor of the debate, they are examples of the unsupported and dangerous claims by CLIFF (still not corrected a year later) being used to perpetuate a conspiracy against anti-vaxxers globally:

  • ‘More Cover-up and Catastrophe Over “Vaxxed”’…”Wow. One has to wonder what the intimidation consisted of, and whether this was reported to the police and other relevant authorities.” – Gumshoe News
  • “Apparently, there was a bomb threat involved. Such bullying, aggressive behaviour is a total disgrace in our ‘free’ country” – Belly Belly
  • “it was pro vaxxers who threatened to bomb the Castlemaine film festival if they showed Vaxxed” Comment on FB
  • “Thug Trolls Force Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival To Cancel Vaxxed Screening” – Crazz Files
  • “Film Festival board members were so harassed, threatened, and intimidated by bullies, large and small, that they had no choice but to withdraw the film.” Letter in Bendigo Advertiser.

This discourse culminated in Wakefield claiming it was state endorsed terrorism – and why not? The hard work was already done by Thrussell. Is that “good” public debate that Thrussell wanted?


It is unclear why, perhaps the sponsors and artists were still not happy with this new sham arrangement with the thinly veiled CLIFF organisation but it wasn’t destined for success. Soon after the second screening was advertised a joint statement was made from the The Theatre Royal, Citizens for Freedom Film Festival and CLIFF saying that they were pulling the second screening. The statement said that “the Theatre Royal has received extensive advice on the matter and is now concerned about public safety” who did they device advice from? How was public safety 

Sadly, newspapers just published the media releases claims – verbatim – without challenging or scrutinising them. It looks like Thrussell was making stuff up on the fly, he pushes a laundry list of vague bad things that happened (hacking, intimidation, highly organised and professional deep pocketed campaign) but when asked about specifics he said “I don’t have specific information”A classic piece of quick “he said she said” journalism that exists in small towns that was unfortunately picked up by major newspapers that just unquestionably repeated the lines that:

  • the film was cancelled because of intimidation and hacking- which is false
  • that none of the critics had seen the film – which is false
  • that it was a free speech issue – which is false
  • that critics wanted to ban it – which is false

What the news reports fail to mention is that sponsors, the community and directors were withdrawing their support and Thrussell provided no evidence of the “targeted harassment” then says “I don’t have specific information”.

The cancelling of the film was really from the fact that the organisers (going along with Thrussell) had totally underestimated the level of news coverage the issue would get – getting coverage on ABC News 24 and every major print publication. Also, they had naively thought that individuals running the festival would not be scrutinised even though they had been prominently featured on the web site. One blogger found that two of the organisers were actively engaged with the anti-vax community and were helping promote various anti-vax conspiracies or causes through their very public social media pages see here and here.

Recap what happened:

  • Some film makers and presenters were threatening to pull out.
  • Sponsors were threatening to pull out or already in the process of withdrawing support – using their free speech
  • Some organisers of CLIFF were sensitive to their anti-vax views being scrutinised in public – didn’t want to be accountable 
  • Some organisers were thinking about pulling the plug
  • CLIFF was criticized by the community and organisations – using their free speech
  • CLIFF still had every legal right to play VAXXED, there was no ban, Cliff were not victims.

Once the story broke that CLIFF was going to have a national premiere of the anti-vaccination film many prominent voices criticised CLIFF for choosing to play the film and labelled the decision as reckless and irresponsible. They repeated that Castlemaine already has low levels of immunisation and highlighted the fact that the film is made by a fraud who was struck off the British medical register and research found it be “an elaborate fraud” with “evidence of falsification” by the British Medical Journal.


A restrained and informed letter to the Editor by the Castlemaine doctors group was published debunking many of Thrussells claims. It also put the debate squarely in the public health context which Thrussell never addresses, always sidestepping to his preferred false narrative of free speech and being a victim of a conspiracy. They write:

The film is fairly easy to track down on YouTube and a number of us have seen it. It provides a one-sided, skewed view

Vaccination rates in this community are already lower than required for herd immunity from many vaccine preventable diseases. This year there was a measles outbreak in Victoria and cases of whooping cough in the Bendigo region have continued to rise since the death of a Bendigo baby in 2011. It would be a worrying sign if vaccination rates in this community were to fall any further.

What Thrussell didn’t realize was that free speech works both ways – including sponsors pulling out, CLIFF organisers being scrutinized and criticism by professional organisations such as the AMA and the community.

Seemingly to save face from canceling that film while still supporting it Thrussell claimed that they were hacked and there was “a massive campaign of harassment and intimidation” – he didn’t provide any evidence and as some reliable commentators have said that police were not contacted.

Wakefield went all the way to the deep end saying that it was pulled because of “state enabled terrorism” yet still he had no specifics about the allegations or evidence. It seemed more of the bombastic rhetoric hiding the incompetence of CLIFF to choose the screening of the film in the first place and their inability to stand by their decision to screen it amidst a predictable outcry that their decision was irresponsible.

The response from CLIFF through Thrussell was disappointing, there was no insight or engagement with the arguments around health instead Thrussell went on the attack saying that “It should be noted that few, if any, of the film’s critics (and those calling for its banning) have actually seen the documentary film in question.” How can he know this?

Thrussell goes on saying that after it was cancelled that “It is a sad reflection on the state of Australian democracy that legitimate questions cannot be raised in a public forum” and that “the ideal of free speech is a fragile, precious and perhaps endangered thing in today’s Australia.” However, what happened was free speech in action, with people questioning the merit of playing the film and scrutinizing the choice, sponsors and directors were pulling out or on the fence and highly credible health experts including the doctors of Castlemaine saying the same thing, exercising their free speech and saying the choice to screen the film is reckless and irresponsible especially when Castlemaine already has low immunisation rates. 

2 year olds Castlemain

One, two, three per cent reductions in vaccination rates harm children. They put them in intensive care, they kill them. This is not scare-mongering. It is so important to maintain vaccination rates well above 90%. It’s irresponsible to do anything that might threaten the public’s health.

Australian Medical Association president Dr Michael Gannon’s statement, clearly framing as a public health issue. Thrussell and Wolstencroft never address these issues.


As I wrote above Thrussell  blamed “deep pocketed” big phrama in a radio interview “I don’t know its been highly co-ordinated and very nasty and I suspect very deep pocketed because its clearly been a professional campaign.” He went on to explain that CLIFF made the decision and it was because some were worried about their careers:

CLIFF as a group made the decision, yes, people involved were very concerned about their safety [but not enough to tell police apparently] and their careers [ie weren’t prepared to stand by it or had careers in industries sensitive to the message of anti-vaxxers].

I sent a Letter to Editor after the record wasn’t corrected by Thrussell.

I propose the best way forward is to dump David Thrussell, the festival director, and be honest about what’s been going on and acknowledge that it was a mistake to play the film.

As it stands CLIFF, through Mr Thrussell’s words to the media and the media releases, is still endorsing Vaxxed and also perpetuating a damaging narrative with many unsubstantiated accusations that feeds anti-vaxxers’ world view.

The discourse from CLIFF through Mr Thrussell has opened the door for writer and director Andrew Wakefield to say it was terrorism, enabled by the government, which led to film being cancelled.

This is a narrative that is currently being exploited by anti-vaxxers globally and one which needs to  be corrected.

No one forced the festival to dump Vaxxed, it was CLIFF that cancelled it because they made a serious misjudgement of the predictable controversy.

The committee should select films that they are confident with defending in public and screening.

Because, as one writer explains “Thrussell has played the victim whilst misleading both the media and sponsors of the film festival” the unchecked allegations of hacking, intimidation have led to Wakefield to claim that there was “state endorsed terrorism” that forced CLIFF to cancel the film. The original wakefield “terroism” video has 17,800 Views see ‘Dirty dealings down- under‘.

 

The decision to screen it was irresponsible, there were potentially direct local effects of screening it, such as lowering the already low rate of immunisations in Castlamine. The other issue was the symbolic victory the film would have by getting endorsed by a film festival – opening the doors to more around Australia, giving a platform to a fraud. The decision to pull it and then blame it on unspecified claims of abuse, intimidation, hacking and worse terrorism is perhaps more damaging. It has fed the conspiracy theory narrative of many people who bought into the moral panic over vaccines, first spread by Wakefield, where a government conspiracy is an essential element in the cognitive dissonance.

Unsurprisingly sponsors threatened to withdraw their support and some did over the planned screening the film. Instead of reevaluating the decision to play the film Thrussell defended it saying “It is not an anti-vaccination film” then said without providing any evidence that they were attacked, assaulted felt threatened then canceled the film. He has ignored the criticism and advice from credible health professionals to push a damaging narrative about unsubstantiated claims of hacking and intimidation (even though it was reported that the police were not contacted) that has led to Wakefield claiming that the film was cancelled because of “state enabled terrorism”. This wasn’t an issue of free speech but public health issue.

David Thrussell said he watched an interview with Robert de Niro that inspired him to play Vaxxed which is ironic because Thrussell cancelled the film the same way as de Niro.

CLIFF weren’t forced they chose to cancel the film there’s been no one banning it. Another writer said, in an excellently titled article ‘No Andrew Wakefield, You’re Not Being Censored And You Don’t Deserve Due Process’ regarding Tribeca cancelling his film:

There is no big pharma conspiracy to push vaccines, and the only fraudulent narrative is that of Andrew Wakefieldand his supporters.

Thrussell risked the festival to play a film that he knew would be divisive and would have let the festival go down in flames if it wasn’t for cooler heads on the organising committee.

Where does this leave us? Well after all was lost and the second screening was cancelled one of the film’s distributors was lamenting that they should stream the film but resolved not to give up on a film screening:

you can’t beat the attention of the media with Vaxxed in a cinema

The narrative that Thrussell propagated has left lasting damage – it has left a false narrative to be exploited by conspiracy theorsits and propagandists. CLIFF can still clear up what happened and come clean but what’s the chance of that – that would require good decision making precisely what was missing to choose Vaxxed in the first place. I’d be happy to be proven wrong. What about MUFF? We’ll it looks like the Wolstencroft chose it to generate precisely the kind of publicity that CLIFF eschewed, instead he invites it, thrives of it like an attention seeking internet troll. There is little value in giving Vaxxed or Red Pill a platform, apart from the prestige of a festival screening, because both have had multiple screenings across Australia, is accessible online by steaming or download. Vaxxed was released over a year ago, being made in the US about a US health organisation. I, like Wolstencroft, believe in free speech. I also believe spreading dangerous propaganda by Nazi’s, anti-vaxxers and mens rights activist is wrong, so if I owned a venue that was playing the films, or had a film in the festival being screened I’d cancel it.

All this can be summed up in one sentence: ‘Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from its consequences.’

 

————————————————-

Why is it so controversial?

Vaxxed is a film made by a discredited former researcher, Andrew Wakefield, who was struck off the UK medical register after being found to be producing fraudulent research, with a conflict of interest for mercenary motives, on children including invasive procedure called lumbar punctures. Wakefield perpetrated “the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years”. Wakefield had secretly patented a new “safer vaccine” months before he conducted his fraudulent research. 

The UK General Medical Council struck Wakefield off the medical register finding that he “[S]howed callous disregard for any distress or pain the children might suffer” was being paid by solicitors for clients that were going to use his study for litigation. France dropped below herd immunity and there were measles outbreak killing 4 children in Ireland because of media from the study that was later retracted by the Lancet. It was fund later that Wakefield was planning to make a kit after his research was published that “could make more than $43 million a year” this is on top of the legal fees.

His results led to global panic over vaccines that has led to re-emergence of many childhood diseases, epidemics, deaths and also suspicion that has created the environment for anti-vaccination groups to flourish. Wakefield’s paper was retracted and he left the UK because of the controversy to become a sort of global snake oil salesman – retreating online to the far corners of the internet where conspiracy theories thrive. He profiteered from exploiting parents of autistic children until his film vaxxed was released. It was his move to rehabilitate his image beyond the hardcore cult like acolytes.

Dr Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, writing in the Wall Street Journal, said:

If Vaxxed had been submitted as science fiction, it would merit attention for its story line, character development and dialogue. But as a documentary it misrepresents what science knows about autism, undermines public confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and attacks the integrity of legitimate scientists and public-health officials.

The film pushes the same discredited association that vaccines cause autism. The biggest problem with the film is that it ignores large systematic studies around the world that have have shown that there is no link. In Denmark 2002 , there was a study of 537,000 children, in Finland there were 535,000 both found no link. In 2012 there was study looking at 14,700,000 children that found no link between MMR and autism. Remember the original fraudulent study was based on an observational study of 12 children. Vaxxed only looks at the US and rests on a “whistleblower“ sound scientific?

To say that the film Vaxxed would be controversial would be an understatement. But it’s not controversial for the reasons that proponents of the film want.

Vaxxed has formed a sort of qusi-relious following setting up facebook groups for each city to try and encourage and foment enough demand to have screenings. This seems to be a strategy employed by the film makers because its not having much success. For example Australia is yet to have a premiere.

Wakefield has also become friendly with Trump (who is an anti-vaxxer) meeting him and endorsing his candidacy.


Draft Media Release Apology from CLIFF (they were invited to use it at the time)

We at CLIFF apologise for our behaviour regarding the situation around the film Vaxxed.

We acknowledge that it was a poor choice to play the film because of health impacts for the local community (that already has low levels of immunisation) and also because it would lend credibility (from the good will that the community has entrusted with us) to Wakefield and his film being endorsed with our name and due to it being a national premiere. We understand now that it’s a matter of about life or death – and thank those who took time to explain why it was a bad choice to screen the film. In particular we would like to thank the AMA President Dr Michael Gannon, Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy, Professor Peter McIntyre director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Michael Moore the chief executive of the Public Health Association of Australia and others.

There was no “highly co-ordinated campaign of intimidation.” Wakefield’s assertion that there was state endorsed terrorism that caused the films screening to be cancelled was false. We were not hacked.

We apologise for the nature in how we cancelled the film and acknowledge the harm that it may have and acknowledge that we were not been honest with the depiction of events. We did this to minimise taking responsibility for screening the film and cancelling the film. We regret this.

CLIFF is a community run film festival and not all the organisers can review films for screening. Although it was a collective decision we feel that the director, David Thrussell, bears responsibility and he has now stood down from his position. He was a strong advocate for choosing the film and also didn’t address predictable and legitimate criticism in a professional and safe manner. He also undermined the festival by establishing another group to screen it which used tickets generated through CLIFF.

We would like to distance ourselves and retract previous statements supporting the film Vaxxed, statements from Wakefield its director and the media releases that CLIFF released. There was no terrorist threats, we over reacted from an understandable level of community concern and the fact that sponsors were pulling out or threatening to pull out. We did not report any incidents to the police and although it was uncomfortable, for some members of CLIFF committee while receiving close scrutiny from past public statements, none of us felt our personal safety was threatened. There were no threats to our safety. This wasn’t an issue of free speech, it was an issue of commercial reality in the first instance and we acknowledge health in the second instance since Thrussell has left.

We also acknowledge the community and local directors and artists good will that we have enjoyed and built up over the years and would like to apologise for breaking that trust.

There may be controversial films in the future but they will be ones that will truly serve the community interest and ones that we will stand by. Films by proven frauds that perpetuate a dangerous health myth do not fit into this category – nor do films that claim the holocaust didn’t happen, deny the science regarding climate change or films that provoke racism and hate in the community.

 Just because a film is controversial doesn’t mean it has inherent value to play – it might be a shit film, dangerous or contradictory to our shared values.

I look forward to seeing you at the festival and enjoy the local talent such as Wind and Sky production with their Premiere Screening of Out of the Closets; a Q&A after his film with actor, activist and academic Gary Foley;  Local Film Competitions.

https://ama.com.au/ausmed/antivax-film-dumped-following-outcry

http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/4179989/calls-for-anti-vax-film-to-be-withdrawn/?cs=3372

http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/4184033/vaxxed-pulled-from-festival/

https://ama.com.au/media/transcript-dr-gannon-abc-central-victoria-anti-vaccination-film


CLIFF’s MEDIA RELEASE – 22 September

Since announcing the premiere Australian screening of the controversial film ‘VAXXED’, our community-based film festival has suffered a campaign of highly co-ordinated abuse and intimidation. It has come to the point where members of the CLIFF team feel personally and professionally threatened.

This is unacceptable.

It is a sad reflection on the state of Australian democracy that legitimate questions cannot be raised in a public forum without inciting a campaign of ill-informed and dishonest intimidation. 
It is with the utmost regret therefore that CLIFF is compelled, for clear reasons of personal and public safety, to withdraw the screening from the CLIFF 2016 programme.

What can’t be contained however is people’s desire to see the film, and given this controversy, that will eventually happen in much greater numbers.

For the record, ‘VAXXED’ is not an ‘anti-vaccination’ film. It raises potential questions about one specific vaccine. The film makes this clear repeatedly.

A film festival screening, and the accompanying discussion arguing the merits of both sides, is an important contribution to presenting information about this issue so the public can make an informed judgement.

Unfortunately, at this time, Australians will no longer have the opportunity to make that judgement for themselves.

CLIFF’s aim is to present a wide and engaging variety of perspectives. ‘VAXXED’ was just one of those perspectives.

CLIFF has no further comment to offer at this stage.


CLIFF MEDIA RELEASE – 25 September

An enormous and entirely unnecessary furore has engulfed what was to be the Australian premiere screening of the documentary film VAXXED. After a massive campaign of harassment and intimidation, CLIFF was reluctantly forced to drop the film. The Theatre Royal and another group, Citizens For Freedom, then resolved to proceed with a new screening.

Though resolutely committed to the concept of free speech, the Theatre Royal has received extensive advice on the matter and is now concerned about public safety should the screening proceed. Unfortunately, as public safety is paramount, the documentary film must be withdrawn.

It should be noted that few, if any, of the film’s critics (and those calling for its banning) have actually seen the documentary film in question.

It may be bitterly ironic that one can walk into a cinema in the U.S.A. and see VAXXED, but one clearly cannot do the same in Australia.

Though this may appear to be a small win for the forces of censorship and prejudice, it is in fact a large and resounding victory for both VAXXED and free speech. Millions of Australians are now aware of the film for the first time and a multitude of people now know that the ideal of free speech is a fragile, precious and perhaps endangered thing in today’s Australia.

There will be no further comment at this time.

A Joint Press Statement from CLIFF, The Theatre Royal and Citizens For Freedom


Statement published by CLIFF from Andrew Wakefield – 22 sept

Dear CLIFF,

I am the Director of VAXXED. I am delighted that you have had the courage and integrity to show our movie at your film festival.

Whatever those who have not seen the movie may say, speaking as they do from a position of ignorance about its content, the facts portrayed in the movie are 100% accurate and were provided by a senior scientist from the CDC itself. It is not my opinion, nor is it my Producers’ opinions; it is fact.

Never at any time, despite openly accusing the CDC researchers of the worst fraud in medical history, has there been any threat of legal recrimination. Why? Because they know it to be true.

Stand firm, resist intimidation, and continue as you have, to preserve the integrity and life-blood of independent documentary film making.

In gratitude,

Andy

———

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3 thoughts on “VAXXED, CLIFF and THRUSSELL: How a cancelled film was everything about consequences of poor decision making and nothing about freedom of speech.

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