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The Film Arcade and Gravitas Ventures have acquired Miranda Bailey’s documentary The Pathological Optimist, about leading anti-vaccination figure Dr. Andrew Wakefield.
The film will be released theatrically by Film Arcade on Sept. 29 followed by a VOD release via Gravitas later this year.
Bailey, the producer behind The Squid and the Whale and The Diary of a Teenage Girl, offers a character study of the controversial doctor, one of 13 co-authors of a notorious 1998 paper in the U.K. medical Journal The Lancet that suggested a link between vaccines and autism. As a result, Dr. Wakefield became the public face of what has come to be known as the “anti-vaccination movement.” An expat from Britain who currently resides in Austin, Texas, Dr. 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 children — create a complex and incisive look at one of our era’s most fear-provoking and provocative figures. Pathological Optimist takes no sides and instead allows Wakefield and the battles he fought to speak for themselves.
The film marks the sophomore helming effort of prolific indie producer Bailey, whose debut, Greenlit, premiered to critical acclaim at SXSW in 2010. Over her 15-year filmmaking career, Bailey has distinguished herself by producing more than 20 films including James Gunn’s Super and Sundance breakout Swiss Army Man. On the directing front, she recently completed production on her narrative feature debut, the Jim Gaffigan starrer You Can Choose Your Family.
“I’ve always gravitated toward controversial subject matters in the many films I’ve produced,” Bailey said. “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.”
Pathological Optimist was executive produced by Jennifer Fox (My Reincarnation).
Founded in 2012, the Film Arcade has released such films as Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice, starring Keegan-Michael Key and Gillian Jacobs, as well as Josh Mond’s James White.
Recent Gravitas titles include Katie Holmes’ feature directorial debut All We Had and Being Evel, from director Daniel Junge and producer Johnny Knoxville.
The Pathological Optimist deal was brokered by Josh Spector on behalf of Gravitas Ventures and by attorney Greg S. Bernstein on behalf of The Film Arcade.
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