How Vaxxed in Castlemaine has unfolded:
- The Age reports CLIFF has been subject to harassment and intimidation after announcing Vaxxed as part of its program.
- Public Health Association of Australia chief executive Michael Moore labels the film “a fraudulent piece of lobbying” and calls for it to be withdrawn from CLIFF.
- Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival director David Thrussell defends the festival’s decision to screen Vaxxed saying “it would be a tragedy if we caved to thugs and people who want to intimidate and censor”
- Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy condemns the anti-vaccination movement as “unsafe, unhelpful and scientifically wrong.”
- The committee meets and decides to withdraw the film. A statement says the decision is for “ for clear reasons of personal and public safety”.
- Social media reports plans of a subsequent screening on October 2 by the Citizens For Freedom Film Festival at the Theatre Royal.
- A joint statement from CLIFF, The Citizens For Freedom and the Theatre Royal abandons its plans for the October 2 screening saying “the Theatre Royal has received extensive advice on the matter and is now concerned about public safety should the screening proceed.”
AFTER being withdrawn from the Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival, controversial documentary Vaxxed has had a subsequent screening cancelled.
CLIFF withdrew the film from its program after the committee faced a firestorm of abuse after its decision to included Vaxxed in its October event.
Vaxxed explores allegations of a cover-up by the US Centre for Disease Control and a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism.
Last week, the anti-vaccination film was re-scheduled for a screening at the Theatre Royal under the Citizens For Freedom Film Festival banner on October 2 – one week before CLIFF.
The decision caused uproar on social media forcing the Theatre Royal, CLIFF and Citizens For Freedom to release a joint statement over the weekend.
The statement said “an enormous and entirely unnecessary furore” had engulfed the potential Australian premiere of Vaxxed.
“After a massive campaign of harassment and intimidation, CLIFF was reluctantly forced to drop the film,” the statement said.
“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.”
The statement also said that few film critics and those calling for the film’s banning had seen the documentary.
“It may be bitterly ironic that one can walk into a cinema in the USA and see Vaxxed but one clearly cannot do the same in Australia,” it said.
The three groups said in the statement they had helped raise the film’s profile 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,” the statement said.
“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.”