The People’s Joker @ Northwest Film Forum and The Beacon

Outsider cinema 🤡

📸: Altered Innocence / Vera Drew

📍 Northwest Film Forum: 1515 12th Ave, Seattle
📆 Wednesday, April 17th – Sunday, April 28th
🎟 Showtimes and tickets here

📍 The Beacon Cinema: 4405 Rainier Ave S, Seattle
📆 Wednesday, April 24th – Thursday, May 2nd
🎟 Showtimes and tickets here

The film that shocked a nation! Or, at least, the [allegedlylitigious people over at Warner Brothers/DC Comics.

A rescrambled version of the Batman mythos, The People’s Joker is a ferocious bit of DIY filmmaking from writer/director/star Vera Drew, who cut her teeth as an editor on the likes of alt-comedy showcases Comedy Bang! Bang!On Cinema, and I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. Now, she has taken the origin story of Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime and turned it into a strange but incredibly moving trans coming-out narrative. What if instead of blowing up the city, the Joker co-ran an anti-comedy troupe with a very penguin-like partner? What if Smylex wasn’t just an Arkham Asylum concoction but also a stand-in for America’s overprescription of antidepressants? And how much damage can a Jared Leto-inspired ex-lover do to one’s self-esteem? Costarring the likes of Maria Bamford, Bob Odenkirk, Tim Heidecker, and Robert Wuhl, the movie comes from a true punk rock spirit that intentionally dismantles outdated modes of storytelling.

Originally set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022, the film pulled out after receiving a stern letter (unconfirmed to be from WB, but come on), and rumblings about parody law swept through the film festival circuit. No “cease and desist” lawsuits happened, but it’s become increasingly difficult to get true underground cinema in front of mass audiences, and Drew wasn’t taking any chances. But now it’s 2024 and the film is finally free to exist, fully intact with a distributor’s backing, ready to show adventurous Seattle audiences how good outsider cinema can be.

💌 Be Our Pen Pal! Find out what’s happening in Seattle by subscribing to our newsletter.


Marcus Gorman

Marcus Gorman is a Seattle-based playwright and film programmer. He once raised money for a synagogue by marathoning 15 Adam Sandler movies in one weekend. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @marcus_gorman.