Todd Drezner: Cinema Libre Studio and “Vaxxed”

31 Mar
Below is an open letter by Todd Drezner, director of Loving Lamposts, to Cinema Libre  the distributors of Andrew Wakefield’s VAXXED.

Dear Cinema Libre,

I’m writing to explain why I’m so disappointed in your decision to distribute “Vaxxed.” I have three main objections:

1) Perhaps of most relevance to Cinema Libre is that Andrew Wakefield has assembled his film using unethical and dishonest editing techniques. As documented here, the “Vaxxed” trailer splices excerpts from two different phone calls together and then inserts a narrator giving an interpretation of those calls that is not supported by the facts. And this is merely one example from a brief trailer. Who knows how many misleading edits Wakefield has made in the full film?

Given Cinema Libre’s commitment to the idea that documentaries can make a social impact, I would think you would want to be associated with filmmakers who follow ethical practices and journalistic standards when making documentaries. When a dishonest filmmaker like Wakefield receives distribution and a theatrical release, it undermines all documentary filmmakers. We depend on the trust of our audiences. Your decision to support a dishonest film like “Vaxxed” destroys that trust. Documentary filmmaker Penny Lane outlines these issues nicely here.

2) Cinema Libre’s blog post about “Vaxxed” refers to “the suppression of medical data by a governmental agency that may well be contributing to a significant health crisis.” This is, I’m sorry to say, no more than a fever dream. First, as you will remember from watching “Loving Lampposts,” the autism “epidemic” can be explained by a combination of changing diagnostic criteria, increasing awareness of autism, and the benefits of receiving a diagnosis (in terms of the access to services and support the diagnosis provides).

Secondly, the CDC “whistleblower” around whom the trailer (and I assume the film) revolves did not reveal anything nearly as sinister as the trailer suggests. It is true that William Thompson of the CDC revealed to Dr. Brian Hooker that a 2004 study of the possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism supposedly found an association between the vaccine and autism in African American males.

Before I say anything about that finding, let’s note what that finding rules out: any association between the MMR vaccine and any other group besides African American males. Even if Thompson’s assertion were true (it’s not), it still doesn’t support the idea that the MMR vaccine causes autism in the many people who are not African American males.

But what about the supposed link between the vaccine and African American males? It’s nothing. Basically, the original study of the association between the vaccine and autism did not leave out African Americans on purpose. Rather, it did so to eliminate “confounders” — that is, any factor other than the vaccine that could have been associated with autism. The authors of the study wanted to be sure that any effect they saw was caused by the MMR and not something else. Dr. Hooker’s “re-analysis” of the study does not account for confounders properly and even if it did, the population of African American males in the study is too small to support any broad conclusions. And one more time, even if the supposed link between African American males and the MMR vaccine were significant, it still rules out any link between the vaccine and all other groups. You can read about these issues in much more detail here and here.

It’s well known that Andrew Wakefield’s research into the MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent. His film is based on equally poor science.

3) Despite Richard Castro’s statement on your blog that the Tribeca Film Festival succumbed to “pressure to censor” “Vaxxed,” there was no censorship. As I’m sure you’re aware, the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech prohibits the government from restricting speech. The Tribeca Film Festival is not government. It is a private organization that is free to screen, or not screen, any film it chooses for any reason. Indeed, Tribeca rejects the work of thousands of filmmakers every year. I’m sure Cinema Libre rejects many filmmakers as well. Are they being censored? Of course not.

On the “Vaxxed” website, Andrew Wakefield and Producer Del Bigtree claim that they were “denied due process” when Tribeca decided not to screen “Vaxxed.” This is absurd. There is no such thing as due process when it comes to the decisions of a film festival selection committee. Nor should there be. If such a thing existed, every prestigious film festival would spend all its time sifting through complaints from unhappy filmmakers. There will always be unhappy filmmakers who are denied admission to film festivals. Andrew Wakefield is now one of them. But he is not a censored filmmaker.

On a personal note, I was and remain grateful for the work Cinema Libre did to promote “Loving Lampposts” when it was released. You got the film screened at venues I could not have and publicized it through news coverage I did not have access to. I hoped and believed that along the way, you came to appreciate the film’s message that autistic people can thrive when they are accepted and when they receive the support they need to function in a world not built for them. Apparently, and much to my dismay, this message did not sink in.

By releasing “Vaxxed,” Cinema Libre is actively harming thousands of autistic people. While we should be discussing ways to best support autistic people and help them lead fulfilling lives, you would instead have us follow a discredited scientist and dishonest filmmaker down a rabbit hole that leads only to long debunked conspiracy theories. I am profoundly disappointed.

I don’t expect that Cinema Libre will change its decision. But given our long business relationship, I felt I owed you this explanation of where I stand. I hope that sometime in the future you may find ways to undo the damage you are about to cause.

30 Responses to “Todd Drezner: Cinema Libre Studio and “Vaxxed””

  1. Michael McWatters (@mmcwatters) March 31, 2016 at 19:22 #

    Todd’s film, Loving Lampposts, was so moving to me when I first saw it. I’m glad he’s speaking up, even though I know it must bring up a complex mix of emotions, given his past relationship with this particular film distributor.

  2. wzrd1 March 31, 2016 at 19:27 #

    I never realized that a person or group enjoying their property rights is now unconstitutional censorship!
    So, now I’m wrong for deciding what will and not occur on my property? So be it, I’ll be wrong. As I’m in a castle doctrine state, I’ll win.
    Deciding what goes on on one’s property and one’s venue is not a government action, it is a private entities enjoyment of a natural right to decide what is acceptable and what is not on private property, in a private venue. That is a natural right that has overruled all other rights since rights were even considered as something that existed.

  3. liberty777 March 31, 2016 at 23:11 #

    Its interesting to hear complaints from people like Todd about a movie Vaxxed that they haven’t even seen yet! Everyone can now be a movie critic, criticizing films they have yet to see?! Its absurd! Its a film. That is all. The most controversial film I remember being in theaters was Michael Moore’s Farenheit 911. It got a lot of criticism but theaters weren’t intimidated to show it. And they made the right choice. It was a great film! Vaxxed deserves the same opportunity to be be seen by the public. Its up to the public to decide if the content of the film is persuasive enough to take any type of action. Its ridiculous for people like Todd to criticize and denigrate a film and it’s distribution company before the person has even seen it yet, with the hopes and intention that if they cause enough commotion and grief, then NOBODY will see it! Get a grip dude. Let people see the film for themselves.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 31, 2016 at 23:17 #

      We have enough information so far to start criticizing it. We can see that the trailer is dishonest, within the first 30s. We also know the claims that Mr. Wakefield has made about William Thompson, and he says that forms the basis for his film. His claims are false, clearly falsifiable by existing public documentation.

      “Its ridiculous for people like Todd to criticize and denigrate a film ”

      What do you consider “denigration” in the above? Please defend your attack. Criticism, especially when well argued and justified, is not denigration. But, again, I ask you to defend your attack.

      While you are at it, please tell me where in the above you can defend ” with the hopes and intention that if they cause enough commotion and grief, then NOBODY will see it! ” Do you have mind reading abilities, or is there substance to your claim in the above? (since there is no substance in your claim, you are merely projecting, a form of attack)

      By the way, you seem to be in the position of defending, promoting a film which I assume you haven’t seen. Not only that, but you demonstrate no real knowledge of the film.

      Lastly, were I of the same mind set as the film makers, I would accuse you of trying to censor Mr. Drezner.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 31, 2016 at 23:19 #

      “Let people see the film for themselves.”

      Funny comment that. Mr. Wakefield has been very careful to not release the information he has obtained from Mr. Thompson. The documents handed over to him have been cherry picked (and, yes, I can justify that claim), but not presented to the public so we can make up our own minds.

      I, on the other hand, have made the William Thompson documents public. I not only allow, I invite the public to see for themselves and decide from the source material, not from a slickly presented film.

      So, what did you think of the documents? Or are you waiting for Wakefield to tell you what to think?

    • Noah Ruderman March 31, 2016 at 23:27 #

      Are you serious “Liberty777?” So we need to wait to actually see the KKK’s new film called “The Master Race” before we critique it? We should stay patient and not speak negatively about a new Holocaust denial film? How about a film that claims Sandy Hook was a hoax and all those parents who are grieving their young children are just actors? Would any of those films do any damage to anyone if we allow them to be screened and legitimatized? As bad as having those films in the public would be at least they couldn’t directly kill any children or cause any to get a preventable disease. Are you now starting to understand why this is a dangerous slippery slope? I’m all for free speech and the “filmmakers” can feel free to release this film on youtube amongst the rest of the crazy conspiracy films but why can’t we be upset if it is given a legitimate release by a supposedly legitimate studio? No, I will not wait to watch it first because it’s not about whether the filmmaking is good or not. I don’t care if they have great cinematography or a great score. The MESSAGE of the film is DANGEROUS. Hard to see how anyone doesn’t understand that.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 31, 2016 at 23:40 #

        let me add–

        I left a message on the Cinema Libre website asking them to provide me with a screener copy. I don’t think there are many (if any) people who have delved into fact checking Wakefield as much as I have, so I would be in a good position to provide a response to the film based upon a thorough knowledge of the subject.

        Let’s see if they take me up on it. They have my email address now.

    • Chris March 31, 2016 at 23:46 #

      “Its interesting to hear complaints from people like Todd about a movie Vaxxed that they haven’t even seen yet!”

      So should we see a movie by rapper B.o.B. that explains how our planet is flat, and all of NASA photos of our planet is faked? And they even faked the shape of our planet’s shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse:

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 1, 2016 at 15:53 #

        Wakefield has no experience being autistic.

        Wakefield has no experience being the parent of an autistic child.

        But Wakefield feels he can justify the brutal murder of an autistic young man by his mother as “relieving his suffering”

        But let’s not criticize Wakefield’s movie, we haven’t seen it!

        I put it to Wakefield’s supporters that they have misplaced priorities.

      • Chris April 1, 2016 at 16:22 #

        “I put it to Wakefield’s supporters that they have misplaced priorities.”

        Especially since they cannot answer many of my simple questions. They act surprised that that “evil” MMR vaccine was around for over twenty years before Wakefield had even heard of it. Yet they can’t find that stark increase in autism during the 1970s and 1980s that should have occurred after the USA started to use the MMR in 1971.

  4. curious simpleton April 1, 2016 at 23:23 #

    Wow, I’m a regular person that has a sudden interest in this film just because the extra efforts of all this bloggers to convince people to not see the film. Dudes if you are paid for trolls, you are doing the complete opposite with this censorship propaganda. You are all being very obvious. I cannot fathom a single reason to justify covering peoples eyes from seeing a film you guys deemed hoax. If it is a hoax people will know. What are you so furiously trying to protect? I can’t wait to see what that is.

    • david hartley holistiqdotcom April 24, 2016 at 18:42 #

      YUP .. vaccine industry trolls are going mad over this film.. must be good stuff in there !
      btw.. here a list of trolls including todd drezner

      • Chris April 24, 2016 at 18:54 #

        Here is a better list:

      • wzrd1 April 24, 2016 at 19:50 #

        Wow, the “troll” list has grown and I’ve made it again, using my real name.
        Oh well, fuck ’em if they see that as a vast conspiracy. That’s quite vast, enough to have a good start for a battalion.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 25, 2016 at 14:20 #

        Sorry, am I a troll, a shill or an astroturfer?

      • wzrd1 April 25, 2016 at 15:17 #

        Per that site, we’re all paid trolls, however, in the context of a paid shill is a troll in their redefinition of everything means precisely whatever they redefine means what they say, rather than what humanity’s long said.
        That way, they get to set up a schizophrenic version of reality, with them varying the conditions upon their own whim.
        You know, Bizarro World.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 25, 2016 at 14:21 #

        Nice way to avoid discussion real criticism of the film. Spin it.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 25, 2016 at 16:12 #

        I made the list twice!!!!

        Thanks for that. Made my day.

      • Science Mom April 25, 2016 at 19:43 #

        Aww, I’m not on there at all. Holy hell in a handbasket, does this fool trawl facebook and discus for these names?

      • wzrd1 April 25, 2016 at 21:10 #

        @Science Mom, in my experience and to judge by my real name entry in his list, it’s derived from Facebook.
        I didn’t notice any of my monikers or derivations upon my name (middle initial, etc) in this specific list.

      • david hartley holistiqdotcom August 6, 2016 at 17:57 #

        doubtful.. vaccine industry trolls simply spout dreck from the $pHARMa propaganda handbook .. and they’re just about EVERYWHERE on the ‘net .. repeating the same idiocy over & over.
        Hopefully the REAL PERSONS (vs. the $pharma / vaccine trolls) are fully aware that the u$a was once a country with one of the lowest infant mortality rates, and NOW .. thanks to injecting poisonous / harmful vaccines… u$a is #21 .. near the WORST of the “developed nations” .. because: vaccines KILL and MAIM.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) August 7, 2016 at 20:15 #

        Repeated comments deleted

    • Chris August 7, 2016 at 04:20 #

      Mr. Hartley, how is spamming the same random capitalization name calling drivel a valid substitute for verifiable evidence? You seem to be proving you have absolutely nothing of value to add to the discussion.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) August 7, 2016 at 20:19 #

        No longer spammed as I deleted his duplicate comments.


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