The Pakistani government overruled its own censor board and overturned the decision that allowed the film Joyland to be seen in the country’s cinemas, a move that could destroy its Oscar chances.
When Joyland premiered at Cannes in May and made history as the first official entry from Pakistan to be invited to the prestigious festival.
Directed by Saim Sadiq, the film finds a man in an arranged marriage drawn into a relationship with a transgender dancer. Joyland follows the domino effect of an affair on the life of a man who lives with generations of his family in a small apartment.
WATCH | Watch the trailer for Joyland:
Although the subject of the film is considered a taboo subject by some Pakistanis, Joyland has been a festival hit, enjoying standing ovations and strong reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and others on the circuit.
All films screened in Pakistan must be screened by regional and national censor boards. at the end of September, Joyland was selected as Pakistan’s official Oscar nomination and was approved by the country’s censor board for domestic release.
Now the government has reversed this decision and effectively banned the film from cinemas.
Last week, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a statement saying it had received complaints that the film “contains highly objectionable material that is not in accordance with the social values and moral standards of our society”.
Director to challenge the decision
Director Saim Sadiq has described the cancellation as “unconstitutional and illegal” and says he plans to challenge the decision.
Oscar eligibility conditions state that a film must be screened in its home country at least one week before November 30. Although in the International Feature Film category, the Academy allows some films to qualify even if they were exhibited outside the country of origin.
Sarwat Gilani, one of the actors in the film, shared a tweet saying that “it’s a shame that a Pakistani film made by 200 Pakistanis in 6 years, which received standing ovations from Toronto to Cairo to Cannes, is being blocked in its own country.” .
It is a shame that a Pakistani film made by 200 Pakistanis in 6 years, which received standing ovations from Toronto to Cairo to Cannes, is being held back in its own country. Do not take away this moment of pride and joy from our people! #ReleaseJoyland @MoIB_Official @GovtofPakistan
The Pakistan Film Producers Association says it is also in talks with the censor board and hopes for a resolution.
Earlier this year at TIFF, Sadiq said that Pakistanis had embraced the film’s success and were encouraged to see their country in the news for positive reasons.
Joyland It was originally scheduled to be released in Pakistan on November 18 to coincide with Transgender Awareness Week.
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