Acclaimed visa row film-maker finally granted right to enter Australia
Ms Shenton was scheduled to appear in person at seven August 2018 screenings of Sacrificial Virgins, which forensically probes the science behind the Gardasil HPV vaccination programs, questioning their safety and whether they actually work. However, a slew of newspapers attacked the screenings, quoting strident criticism by federal health minister Greg Hunt, and a statement appeared in newspapers that “Immigration Minister Peter Dutton would not rule out denying entry to British filmmaker Joan Shenton when she flies in for the screenings” (1). At that point Ms Shenton’s visa hit difficulties and she was forced to cancel her visit.
Joan Shenton said: “The irony is that the attacks on Sacrificial Virgins increased public awareness of the screenings and the questions surrounding HPV vaccination. The screenings went ahead anyway, I attended by Skype and the publicity meant that far more people heard the truth about the vaccine’s risks.”
Sacrificial Virgins went on to be distinguished by inclusion in the forthcoming final night of MUFF – the forthcoming Melbourne Underground Film Festival – on 2 November at 8.30 pm. However, despite her new visa, Shenton will be unable to attend the new screening, this time because of the film’s growing acclaim.
“The Sacrificial Virgins team, director Andi Reiss and I are honoured that the film is to be part of the closing night at MUFF,” she said. “It’s a great tribute. However, we have the double honour that the film has also been selected for screening the following day in Pennsylvania, USA at the ReadingFilmFest, and I have made a commitment to that.
“I’ll be sorry not to visit MUFF and Melbourne in November but I do intend to make the most of my visa and return to Australia soon. As Sacrificial Virgins shows, HPV vaccination programs like Australia’s are ruining thousands upon thousands of lives, some fatally, yet there’s no unambiguous evidence that these programs are delivering on promises to prevent future cervical cancer.
“Indeed, despite recent claims that Australia will be the first country to effectively eliminate cervical cancer (2), data now shows that, far from eliminating cancer, there isn’t even a downward trend in cervical cancer diagnoses among women in the age group first targeted by the vaccine (3). In fact, in the UK the annual increase in cervical cancer diagnoses in such women is actually accelerating (4), which should be a wake-up call to health authorities in the UK, Australia and other countries that aggressively promote HPV vaccinations.
“The responsible thing is to suspend such programs until independent science gives the all clear. And with Queensland the birthplace of Gardasil, many Australians think their country should be taking a lead in behaving responsibly over this.”
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Notes for editors
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Tel: UK + 44 7957 585515 / US 011 44 79 57 58 55 15
MUFF screening: http://www.muff.com.au/closing-night-18/
ReadingFilmFest screening: http://readingfilmfest.com/gender-issues/
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