MARCH 04, 2018. BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA. 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 .