Jordan Peterson Movie Screening in New York Called Off As Filmmakers Decry 'Cancel Culture'

A screening of a film documenting Jordan Peterson's ascent from an unknown academic to a world-renowned public figure has been canceled after staff at a New York City venue claimed they were "uncomfortable" with the show.

The documentary, titled The Rise of Jordan Peterson, was due to air at the ShapeShifters Lab in Brooklyn on Sunday, but Toronto-based filmmakers Patricia Marcoccia and Maziar Ghaderi received notice of the cancellation only hours before.

ShapeShifters made the move despite successfully screening the film to a sold-out crowd three days prior and with no negative incidents to report.

"The owners of the venue have decided to cancel the screening today due to some staff feeling uncomfortable during the first screening," Marcoccia and Ghaderi wrote in a last-minute email to ticket-holders before the show. "We're really sorry everyone."

Newsweek has contacted ShapeShifters Lab for comment.

Although no further clarification was provided to Marcoccia and Ghaderi, despite their requests, they said they believe the screening was canceled because Peterson and the film itself have been accused of promoting far-right views.

That accusation has been leveled at Peterson repeatedly since his rise to prominence in 2015. Peterson, however, adamantly denies that view.

One such reason that critics brandish him with this label is due to Peterson's opposition to Canada's Bill C-16—an amendment to the country's Human Rights Act stating that gender expression and gender identity were "protected grounds." This resulted in the ability of the courts to punish people who do not refer to individuals by their preferred gender pronouns.

Peterson publicly refused to comply with this bill, gaining millions of YouTube followers in the process, arguing that compelling speech is not something that we should be permitting governments to do. He adds that in no time in the history of British Common Law has this been allowed.

This move has often been described as "transphobic" by critics, but the 57-year-old argues that free speech is humanity's best mechanism for averting totalitarian governments, such as those of Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.

Opponents have frequently tried to silence the University of Toronto professor however, arranging protests and encouraging venues to withdraw their invites.

Film director Marcoccia described her frustration with the "tired narrative" of "cancel culture" and attempts to stifle dialogue in this way, while writing in a blog post about the film on Areo Magazine.

Jordan Peterson Sydney
Jordan Peterson speaks at ICC Sydney Theatre on February 26, 2019. A screening of a film documenting his ascent has been canceled in New York after safe felt 'uncomfortable'. Getty

"I certainly hope this doesn't keep on happening," Marcoccia told Newsweek. "Our hopes with this film were to create a space for a different type of conversation and we worked really hard to bring in different perspectives and to show all the nuance and complexity that tends to be missing in the narrative that's out there about Jordan Peterson and this phenomenon.

"We're hoping to actually start having more conversations about the film itself and what it brings up for people as opposed to the film being canceled. There's a difference between the film we made and Jordan's YouTube channel or his Twitter feed. If you think that he has been an important and influential figure in culture—and I think that's undeniable—then that's what our film is about."

Marcoccia and Ghaderi will continue to showcase the film in ten different locations across the U.S. in the coming two months and several fan-led screenings are being held across the world. Details can be found on the filmmakers' website, Holding Space Films.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that comment from Marcoccia was sourced from Areo Magazine.

Jordan Peterson Movie Screening in New York Called Off As Filmmakers Decry 'Cancel Culture' | U.S.