Michael Schatz Memorial Lecture
Is it ever possible to use humor in discussing the Holocaust? History shows that even its victims used humor as a means of survival and resistance. Ferne Pearlstein’s thought-provoking documentary
Is it ever possible to use humor in discussing the Holocaust? History shows that even its victims used humor as a means of survival and resistance. Ferne Pearlstein’s thought-provoking documentary puts this question to comedians, writers, and thinkers including Mel Brooks, Carl and Rob Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Susie Essman, Etgar Keret, Shalom Auslander, and 98-year-old Auschwitz survivor Renee Firestone. Following a screening of The Last Laugh, Ferne will be in discussion about the film, opening a fresh avenue for approaching this epochal tragedy, encouraging audience participation to examine the uncomfortable questions made more relevant at a time when anti-Semitism and hate are on the rise and even feel “normalized.”
Ferne Pearlstein is a quadruple-threat: director, cinematographer, producer, editor. A member of the documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and winner of the Sundance Cinematography Prize for Ramona Diaz’s Imelda about the former First Lady of the Philippines, she has directed, produced and/or photographed films from Japan to Haiti to Uganda to Guyana to Burma, where she snuck her 16mm camera into the rebel army bases of the Karen Liberation Army. Ferne has had four features premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, most recently the critically acclaimed The Last Laugh starring Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, David Cross, and many others, which screened at over 100 festivals around the world and was released theatrically in over 25 cities. Ferne’s recent work with comedians intersects with her activism as part of Persisticon, a feminist group that stages comedy events to raise money for woman and BIPOC political candidates. She also recently worked with comedians as one of only eight documentary filmmakers worldwide chosen by the UN and Google to direct a series of PSAs about building a sustainable planet.