Vaccine documentary series Sacrificial Virgins wins Australian Best of Festival award for its international investigative journalism
March 04, 2018, Brisbane, Australia. Press Dispensary.A documentary film trilogy, Sacrificial Virgins – which investigates widespread global concerns over the safety of the controversial HPV* vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix – was today doubly honoured with awards for investigative journalism at the Watchdog Film Festival, held in Brisbane, Australia.
As well as the prestigious Best of the Festival award, Sacrificial Virgins won the Watchdog Spirit Award in recognition of the investigation “in search of truth and justice” by film-maker Joan Shenton and her colleagues, notably director Andi Reiss and film editor Ollie Richards.
Festival founder and director James Hyams, himself an investigative journalist, said: “Shenton’s thorough, transnational investigation in search of truth and justice deserves recognition and thus the Watchdog Film Festival has awarded her and her team the Watchdog Spirit Award. Individuals such as Ms Shenton and her team play a very important role in identifying and documenting questionable practices within institutions with the hope of increasing accountability and initiating changes for the betterment of society.”
The announcement of both awards was made at the screening of a special “festival cut” of Sacrificial Virgins. James Hyams added: “Joan Shenton’s documentary Sacrificial Virgins questions the safety of the HPV vaccine by illustrating that many individuals correlate the onset of a disability or the death of their daughter with the vaccine. Shenton questions medical professionals about the methodology of the HPV clinical trials and develops a case that further scientific research needs to be conducted to alleviate growing concern about the risks and benefits of the HPV vaccine.”
Joan Shenton, who wrote and narrated Sacrificial Virgins, said: “For the investigative journalism in Sacrificial Virgins to be recognised in such a way by the Watchdog Film Festival is incredibly rewarding. Investigative film-making, often done in the shadow of powerful commercial and political concerns that don’t want you to be heard, can be lonely and sometimes a little frightening. Professional appreciation, especially of such a calibre, touches our hearts, not least when we are told the awards include Best of the Festival.”
She continued: “These awards go not only to us as film-makers but to the families of the medical victims we filmed, who every day are battling against extraordinary odds to make better lives for their disabled daughters and, in some cases, to find justice for the daughters who are no longer with them.
“The films establish that there is no evidence that the HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix, in guarding against HPV, will also protect against future onsets of cervical cancer because there is no scientific evidence that HPV actually causes such cancers. However, the films demonstrate plenty of evidence that, after receiving the vaccines, countless young women worldwide have experienced life-changing neurological damage. Yet these vaccines are pushed onto whole populations in many countries through national vaccination programmes. The important thing now is to stop the vaccination programmes until further research into the long term effects is evaluated.”
Shenton concluded: “Our hope is that Sacrificial Virgins helps the combined efforts of campaigning and legal action in getting these drugs taken off the market until independent, ethically conducted research shows that the benefits properly outweigh the risks.”
Sacrificial Virgins is on YouTube as a trilogy at http://bit.ly/SV-playlist .
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Notes for editors
* HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is a virus commonly found in women’s cervixes. In almost all cases the infection does not produce symptoms and clears up without treatment or complications. The HPV vaccine is proven to be able to prevent HPV infection. The controversy lies around the claim by those who administer the HPV vaccine that HPV is also the cause of the majority of cervical cancers in later life; the Sacrificial Virgins films offer evidence showing this claim as unproven and lacking scientific evidence, and therefore dispute the claim that administering the vaccine now will prevent this cancer in years to come. The films conclude that if the HPV vaccine’s only proven benefit is to prevent HPV, but not cervical cancer, then the risks far outweigh potential benefits and therefore the drugs should be withdrawn pending further independent investigation.
About the films
Sacrificial Virgins is a series in three parts written and narrated by Joan Shenton and directed by Andi Reiss. It is a co-production between Meditel Productions and Yellow Entertainment.
Part one, Not for the greater good, examines the science behind the claim that HPV vaccinations in girls and young women prevent cervical cancer in later life. View on YouTube: http://bit.ly/SV-NotGood . Press release: http://bit.ly/PD-SV1-English .
Part two, Pain and suffering, examines the rate of neurological disorder reports associated with HPV vaccinations worldwide and the likelihood that new combinations of aluminium adjuvant in the vaccinations could be the cause. View on YouTube: http://bit.ly/SV-Pain . Press release: http://bit.ly/PD-SV2-English .
Part three, A penny for your pain, looks at the possibility of pharmaceutical giants Merck and GlaxoSmithKline being found liable in the world’s courts, including a potential game-changing class action in Japan. View on YouTube: http://bit.ly/SV-PennyPain . Press release: http://bit.ly/PD-SV3-English .
The trilogy is playlisted for viewing on YouTube at http://bit.ly/SV-playlist
About Joan Shenton
Joan Shenton has extensive experience of producing and presenting television and radio programmes, including many peak time network documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, Central TV, and Thames TV.
Joan Shenton’s independent production company, Meditel Productions, has won seven television awards and was the first independent company ever to win a Royal Television Society Award for an episode of Channel 4’s Dispatches. It has produced eight network documentaries for 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.
The HIV/AIDS documentary film, Positive Hell, has won a wide array of film festival awards since 2015, most recently the Special Jury Prize for Global Social Impact at the prestigious Queens World Film Festival in Queens, New York. Like Sacrificial Virgins, Positive Hell was written and narrated by Joan Shenton and directed by Andi Reiss, and is a co-production between Meditel Productions and Yellow Entertainment.
For further information please contact
Joan Shenton, Sacrificial Virgins
Tel: UK + 44 7957 585515