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Acclaimed visa row film-maker finally granted right to enter Australia


November 01, 2018, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA. Press Dispensary. The award-winning British journalist and film-maker Joan Shenton - whose Australian visa application controversially hit the rocks days before she was due to tour the east coast states with her HPV vaccination film Sacrificial Virgins - has been granted a one year Australian visa. This follows an assessment by the Controversial Visitors Unit in the Department of Home Affairs.

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.

- ends -

Notes for editors
(1) Sydney Morning Herald, July 25, 2018, and The Age:
(2) The Guardian, March 4, 2018:
(3) Gardasil alert – open letter by Nicole Delépine, Paediatrician/Oncologist & Gérard Delépine, Orthopaedic Surgeon/Oncologist, July 23, 2018 (French):
English translation: AND
Australian cervical cancer incidence (graph):
(4) UK cervical cancer incidence trends (Cancer Research UK): AND
UK cervical cancer rates vs HPV vaccination %, ages 20-24: (graph)

Joan Shenton is a British journalist, writer and film-maker with extensive experience of producing and presenting peak time television and radio programmes for the BBC, Channel 4, Central TV, and Thames TV. Her production company, Meditel Productions, was the first independent ever to win a Royal Television Society Award for an episode of Channel 4's Dispatches. It has produced eight network documentaries for UK Channel 4, Sky News and M-Net, South Africa on the AIDS debate. AIDS - The Unheard Voices won the Royal Television Society Award for Current Affairs.

Sacrificial Virgins is a 30 minute documentary which has won awards at the Watchdog Film Festival, Brisbane, Australia, and the Queens World Film Festival in Queens, New York. It will be screened as part the final night of MUFF – the Melbourne Underground Film Festival – on 2 November at 8.30 pm and on the second day of the ReadingFilmFest, in Pennsylvania, USA, on 3 November.

For further information please contact
Joan Shenton, Sacrificial Virgins
Tel: UK + 44 7957 585515 / US 011 44 79 57 58 55 15

MUFF screening:
ReadingFilmFest screening:

Media contacts

Joan Shenton
Tel: UK + 44 7957 585515 / US 011 44 79 57 58 55 15

MUFF screening:
ReadingFilmFest screening:

HPV vaccine Sacrificial Virgins film awards Australian visa adverse medical effects neurological damage MUFF Melbourne Underground


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