The People’s Joker, an independent queer coming-of-age film by Vera Drew that utilizes the most famous Batman villain, in has been pulled from the Toronto Film Festival lineup over “rights issues.”
Drew herself stars in the film as a struggling clown who is grappling with her gender identity while living in Gotham. The Los Angeles-based director and actress is also behind TV series including On Cinema, Scum, Our Bodies, and I Love David. According to her TIFF bio, The People’s Joker is her feature directorial debut.
“I have no clue how today goes and my team wants me to say nothing of course so I’ll stay vague,” Drew tweeted on Tuesday. “But whatever happens in the next few hours, I want you to know… if you’ve been waiting and aching to watch our movie, ur going to get to soon. Stay tuned and stay with me. Need ur help.”
I have no clue how today goes and my team wants me to say nothing of course so I’ll stay vague…but whatever happens in the next few hours, I want you to know…if you’ve been waiting and aching to watch our movie, ur going to get to soon. Stay tuned and stay with me. Need ur help pic.twitter.com/RcFIWYsUFi
— Vera Drew is the Joker™️ (@VeraDrew22) September 13, 2022
The official TIFF synopsis describes The People’s Joker like this: “With comedy criminalized in Gotham City, the show is the only government-sanctioned space for funny people, but only those who will toe the party line. Disillusioned by a botched audition, Vera partners with a birdlike slacker to found their own alternative comedy troupe, attracting not only a rogues’ gallery of would-be comics, but also the ire of a fascistic caped crusader.”
But the film will no longer be shown at the festival as planned. A statement on the TIFF website reads that the “filmmaker has withdrawn this film due to rights issues. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
According to Variety, the rights issue may be coming from Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns DC Comics and holds the rights to the Batman universe. A rep from Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to MovieMaker‘s request for comment on Wednesday as to whether the company is preventing The People’s Joker from being shown. MovieMaker has also reached out to UTA, which is selling the film, for comment.
One fan who did get to see The People’s Joker called it “the best film at TIFF” and vowed that “the film will live on in the hearts of those who were in the audience.”
THE PEOPLE’S JOKER is the best film at TIFF this year and you’ll never see it! A parodic journey into the world of DC with a trans lens. This is gonna be my favourite screening of the festival. The film will live on in the hearts of those who were in the audience! #tiff22 pic.twitter.com/85nM6mOWWm
— Becca Sandergaard (@BecSandergaard) September 14, 2022
You can watch the trailer for The People’s Joker here:
After years of numbing herself with Smylex, an unfunny clown named Joker grapples with gender identity, first love, and a fascist caped crusader all while founding an illegal comedy theater in Gotham City.
THE PEOPLE'S JOKER, a queer coming of age Joker origin tale. pic.twitter.com/SPy2ZPe11d
— Vera Drew is the Joker™️ (@VeraDrew22) September 9, 2022
Main Image: A still from The People’s Joker