The Pathological Optimist, the documentary about Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the man behind one of the most highly controversial, intensely debated topics in modern medicine: the anti-vaccination movement — has been acquired for theatrical and VOD release by The Film Arcade and Gravitas Ventures. The Miranda Bailey documentary will be released theatrically by The Film Arcade on September 29th followed by a VOD release via Gravitas later this year.
The film is the sophomore effort of Bailey, whose debut Greenlit premiered to critical acclaim at SXSW in 2010. In a 15-year filmmaking career, Bailey has produced over 20 films, among them the Oscar-nominated The Squid and the Whale and the Spirit Award-winning The Diary of a Teenage Girl as well as James Gunn’s Super and the Sundance Film festival hit Swiss Army Man.
The film lets Wakefield and the battles he fights speak for themselves. It has been described as “a character study” of Dr. Wakefield, one of 13 co-authors of a notorious 1998 paper in the UK medical Journal The Lancet, but who became the very public face of what has come to be known as “The Anti-Vaccination Movement.” An expat from Britain who currently resides in Austin, Texas, Wakefield allowed Bailey and her team to follow him and his family for five years beginning in 2011 as he fought a defamation battle in the courts against the British Medical Journal and journalist Brian Deer. The results of that case – and the self-reflection, pronouncements, and observations of Wakefield, his legal team, wife, and his children – create a complex and incisive look at this polarizing man.
The Pathological Optimist was executive produced by Jennifer Fox (My Reincarnation).
“I’ve always gravitated towards controversial subject matters in the many films I’ve produced. The minefield of strong opinions and disagreements on who Andrew Wakefield is or what Andrew Wakefield has done intrigued me. What I found was a startling portrayal of a modern day sisyphus, punished by the media and the public yet continuing to push his rock up the hill over and over again,” said Bailey, who recently completed production on her narrative feature debut You Can Choose Your Family starring Jim Gaffigan.
The deal was brokered by Josh Spector on behalf of Gravitas Ventures and by attorney Greg S. Bernstein on behalf of The Film Arcade.