Jerrod Carmichael
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A Film About a Trans Joker Was Pulled From TIFF Over a 'Rights Issue'

people's joker

The people won’t get to see the Joker we deserve, at least not yet.

Vera Drew’s independent film The People’s Joker, about a trans clown who opens an underground comedy club and goes up against a fascist caped crusader, has unfortunately been pulled from its slot at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it had one screening before being hit with a cease and desist order.

“The filmmaker has withdrawn this film due to rights issues,” a statement posted on TIFF’s official website reads. “We apologize for any inconvenience. Current ticket holders will receive an email from TIFF Customer Relations with information on their purchase.”

The movie has certainly been pulled because of rights issues over the DC Comics characters in the movie. The title card for the film says it is “completely unauthorized by Detective Comics, Warner Brothers, and anyone claiming ownership of the trademarks therein. All materials used fall under fair use.”

Described as a “queer, coming-of-age Joker origin tale,” the movie’s synopsis reads: “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.” Drew wrote, directed, and stars in the movie, her feature film debut.

Drew commented on the issue on her Twitter on Tuesday, ahead of the film’s first screening. “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,” she tweeted. “Stay tuned and stay with me. Need ur help”

Now, fans (and hopeful-fans) of the movie are using the hashtag #FREETHEPEOPLESJOKER in order to get the movie released.

When asked about her plans for releasing the movie, Drew said this: "Everyone is going to get the chance to see this film. I don't respond well to bullying or pressure from faceless institutions. It only emboldens me and what I was saying with this film. We're looking at buyers and distribution partners who will protect us and make this film accessible to trans people and their families everywhere."

RELATED | 8 Trans Coming Out Scenes We Loved From Film and Television

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