Trans filmmaker’s Joker parody removed from international festival lineups – GCN

A transgender version of the popular Joker movie titled The People’s Prankster was removed from the Toronto International Film Festival lineup after Warner Brothers Studios reportedly issued a cease and desist order.

The crowd-funded film was written by trans filmmaker Vera Drew who also directs and stars in the feature.

In The People’s PranksterDrew reimagines the infamous villain as a transgender comedian struggling to find his voice in an oppressive society.

The film’s synopsis reads: “After years of going numb with Smylex, an unfunny clown named Joker struggles with gender identity, first love, and a fascist caped crusader while founding a illegal comedy in Gotham City.”

Speaking about the film ahead of its premiere, Vera Drew said that “If these are our modern myths, and if the purpose of myth is to learn about the human experience and to grow and also to track your progress – the journey of heroes and all that – let’s do this seriously with these characters.

The feature itself is not licensed by Warner Brothers and DC Comics, something the filmmaker is well aware of and acknowledges in an opening title card.

Drew said the characters are used under the US Fair Trade Doctrine, which serves to protect the use of copyrighted material for certain purposes. The Supreme Court established that parody is protected by the First Amendment in 1988.

Despite this, Warner Brothers reportedly still issued a cease and desist order following the film’s first screening at the festival.

The later film festival issued a statement saying, “The filmmaker has pulled this film due to rights issues. Please accept our apologies for any issues.”

Drew then took to Twitter saying, “I have no idea how today is going and my team wants me to say nothing of course so I’ll keep it vague…but whatever happens in the next few hours i want you to know…if you have i am waiting and can’t wait to watch our movie, you will get there soon.stay tuned and stay with me.need your help.

She is now begging fans to vote for The People’s Joker to win TIFF’s People’s Choice Award “We’re the only movie with ‘people’ in the title, so that’s only fair.”.

Fans also took to Twitter to voice their support for the #FREETHEPEOPLESJOKER trend as a result.

One user said, “THE PEOPLE’S JOKER removed from TIFF is more than just a copyright issue. Trans rights, capitalism and community. The weight of over 100 artists and a confirmed filmmaker @VeraDrew22 telling his story via parody of a beloved IP. You should be flattered, WB! #FREETHEPEOPLESJOKER”

Another user also weighed in on the situation and said, “I saw @VeraDrew22’s illegal Joker movie trend earlier. 💖 need to keep talking about it until The People’s Prankster plays in every major city in the world. Stop silencing @warnerbros trans women! #FREETHEPEOPLESJOKER”

The People’s Prankster is still to be screened at the GAZE International LGBTQ+ Film Festival 2022 in Dublin.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

GCN support

GCN has been a free essential information service for the Irish LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we, like many other organizations, have been greatly impacted in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary hiatus from our print publication and live events. So now more than ever we need your help to continue to provide this community resource in digital form.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from from €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free and independent LGBTQ+ media.

Darcy J. Skinner