Trans Joker film finally given premiere date and fans are going wild: ‘Please see this movie’

Vera Drew during the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of The People's Joker.

An unofficial trans Joker parody that every queer movie geek has been waiting for is finally premiering after being removed from a film festival in 2022.

The crowdfunded indie film, The People’s Joker, directed by and starring Vera Drew, is set to bewilder audiences at the Outfest film festival in Los Angeles on 15 July.

The film, which calls itself the “illegal comic book movie,” tells the story of an unnamed protagonist who grapples with gender-identity issues while numbing herself with irony and the fictional inhalant “smylex.”

While trying to break into Gotham City’s underground comedy scene, she joins forces with several memorable names from the DC Universe – with performances from Scott Auckerman (as Mr Freeze), Tim Heidecker (editor Perry White) and Bob Odenkirk (Bob the Goon) – to fight what is described as a “fascist caped crusader.”

On Monday (3 July), Drew tweeted that she was “beyond grateful” to reveal the film’s official US premiere.

“It’s a queer coming-of-age Joker origin story… featuring the work of 200 independent artists on three separate continents, all made during a global pandemic,” the movie’s description reads.

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The People’s Joker was set to premiere in 2022 during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) but was removed from the line-up due to vaguely defined “rights issues” that possibly stem from the amount of content the film pulls from DC and Warner Bros properties.

In response, Drew began sharing #FreethepeoplesJoker in retaliation to what she described as “bullying” from “faceless institutions.”

The film did show as planned during festival, but only once to “mitigate potential blowback”, Drew announced.

“It was disappointing, especially since I went to great lengths with legal counsel to have it fall under parody/fair use. But I made this choice to protect our film’s future and to protect our new friends at TIFF who have been some of [the film’s] biggest advocates.”

Those who managed to see the screening, including Slate senior editor Sam Adams, said it was “impossible to describe everything” in the film, adding that it “flouts the rules of narrative as much as it does the laws that govern intellectual property”.

Adams claimed that the film is likely to remain “unreleasable” due, in part, to the sheer amount of property right infringement, including songs from Pink Floyd and Eminem.

Regardless, fans are ecstatic to see the film up and alive again, with some saying they were “enormously excited” for Drew and those who had worked on the film.

The People’s Joker is finally free,” one person wrote on social media. “It’s the kind of trans storytelling and radical confrontation we need right now.”

Another wrote: “Please see this movie, it was such a delight to work on and Vera’s vision for these characters really hits home.”

The Outfest premiere is set to take place at the Redcat Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater and will feature a post-screening Q&A with the cast and crew.

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