‘People’s Joker,’ queer film set in Batman Universe, pulled from TIFF over ‘rights issues’

‘People’s Joker,’ queer film set in Batman Universe, pulled from TIFF over ‘rights issues’

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“The People’s Joker,” a queer coming-of-age film set in the Batman universe, has been pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival over alleged “rights issues.”

Directed by Los Angeles-based director Vera Drew, the mixed-media film follows an aspiring clown (played by Drew) who struggles with her gender identity as she dreams of being cast in a TV sketch show between a cast of Jokers and Harlequins.

An official synopsis from TIFF reads: “With comedy criminalized in Gotham City, the show is the only government-sanctioned space for funny people, but only for those who stick to the party line. Disillusioned by a failed audition, Vera teams up with a bird-like flaccid to found their own alternative comedy troupe, attracting not only a gallery of rogues, but the wrath of a fascist caped crusader.

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Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns DC Comics and the rights to the Batman universe, has not yet commented on the film, though it’s likely the studio was involved to block the showings. Variety has contacted Warner Bros. Discovery for comment.

The film, which is sold by UTA, was programmed as part of the festival’s popular Midnight Madness selection and was shown Tuesday night. However, the three subsequent screenings have now been cancelled.

The Canadian Press reported on Wednesday that in a Q&A after the screening, Drew said she had cut scenes from the 2019 movie “Joker” that had been previously shot.

In a statement on the title’s official TIFF page, the festival posted a short statement noting that the “filmmaker has withdrawn this film due to rights issues. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Variety has contacted TIFF for further comment.

More to come.

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