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: "Joan 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. 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 caliber, touches our hearts, not least when we are told the awards include Best of the Festival."

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