XCLD: The Story of Cancel Culture | Local Spotlight

Local Spotlight

Director Ferne Pearlstein and comedian Judy Gold expected to attend

This program has been moved from the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre to the Delancey Street Screening Room. The event takes place at the same date and time. All previously purchased tickets will be honored.

From book banning to blacklisting, cancel culture has become a fixture of our society. In this entertaining and thought-provoking documentary, director Ferne Pearlstein provides a history of cancel culture in the United States and the moral panic surrounding it. Activists, scholars, and comics, including Marc Maron and Sarah Silverman, discuss the double-edged sword of calling people out, whether by punching up or punching down. Social media platforms enable the powerless to criticize the powerful, bringing awareness to systemic injustices. But when algorithms encourage political polarization, viral arguments, and even outrage, it becomes harder to draw the line between restorative justice and bullying. Interweaving clips from classic films, XCLD raises questions about free speech, minority representation, and academic integrity through a series of case studies, including Jewish comedian Judy Gold’s experience within her own community. Are people really capable of critical thinking, change, and forgiveness? During this period of ostracism, perhaps we should be in dialogue now more than ever. Executive Produced by Trevor Noah. — Thaïs Miller

California Premiere

Ferne Pearlstein is a director, cinematographer, and editor based in New York City with graduate degrees from ICP and Stanford’s MA Program in Documentary Film. Her most recent film is “XCLD: THE STORY OF CANCEL CULTURE,” a nuanced look at this controversial topic, produced by Trevor Noah, starring Marc Maron and Judy Gold. A winner of the Sundance Cinematography Prize for Ramona Diaz’s IMELDA, a member of the Documentary Branch of AMPAS, and one of the few female cinematographers featured in Kodak's “On Film” ad campaign, Ferne has made films from Haiti to Uganda to Guyana to Burma, where she snuck her 16mm camera across the border into the rebel bases of the Karen Liberation Army. As a director and producer, with husband and producing partner Robert Edwards, she has had four features premiere at Tribeca, including SUMO EAST AND WEST (2003), and the narratives LAND OF THE BLIND (2006), starring Ralph Fiennes and Donald Sutherland, and ONE MORE TIME (2016), starring Christopher Walken. The most recent of those was the critically acclaimed THE LAST LAUGH (2016) about taboos in humor, starring Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, and Aushwitz survivor Renee Firestone, which screened at over a hundred festivals and was released in more than 25 cities. Both docs aired nationally on PBS/Independent Lens. Since then, Ferne has become a recognized speaker and author on humor as it relates to taboo and crisis. In 2020 was chosen by the UN, Google, and Tribeca Studios to direct 17 PSAs about building a sustainable planet, which were featured on YouTube and shown at the UN General Assembly, starring comedians including Bridget Everett, David Cross, Amber Tamblyn, and Jordan Carlos. Ferne’s work with comedians also intersects with her activism as part of Persisticon, which stages comedy events to raise money for feminist/BIPOC candidates. 

Support provided by the Nancy P. and Richard K. Robbins Family Foundation

10-Flix Ticket Package

$140 JFI Members / $165 General Public

The 10-Flix Voucher Package may be redeemed for any 10 regular or special events tickets to any 10 programs of your choice, with the exception of Opening Night. Share with family and friends, fully transferable. Great for gifts! 10-Flix Vouchers cannot guarantee tickets to sold-out shows, so redeem early to ensure availability.