‘Joyland’: Pakistani film opens in some theaters after government lifts ban

Islamabad, Pakistan

Award-winning film “Joyland” will open in cinemas in parts of Pakistan on Friday after South Asian authorities overturned a ban imposed following complaints that the home-made film was unfit for viewing.

Directed by Saim Sadiq, “Joyland” tells a love story between the youngest son of a “happily patriarchal blended family” and a transgender star he meets after secretly joining an erotic dance theater, according to a synopsis on the Cannes Film Festival’s website.

The plot seemed too sensitive for the Pakistani government, which last week revoked the film’s certification after receiving written complaints that it contained “extremely objectionable material”.

However, State Counselor Salman Sufi tweeted on Wednesday that the Censor Board’s review committee had subsequently cleared the film, with the requested changes and added: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental right and should be nurtured within the scope of the law.”

The film was listed for screening in some cinemas across Pakistan on Friday, except in Punjab province, where the Information and Culture Department said it could not be screened “following persistent complaints from different quarters.”

As of Thursday night, the filmmakers had not issued an official statement about the lifting of the nationwide ban or the new ban in Punjab.

“Joyland” is the first Pakistani film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the unofficial Queer Palm in May. It was then sent to the Academy Awards as Pakistan’s official award for the International Film Awards. According to the Academy’s official rules, it must be played in theaters for at least seven days prior to November 30 to be eligible to participate.

Nationwide turnaround The ban followed public protests from human rights groups and prominent Pakistanis, including Malala Yousafzai, who is also the main producer of the film.

In a post on Instagram, the film’s director, Sadiq, urged the authorities to reconsider the ban, and one of its stars, Rasti Farooq, said in a post: “I stand by my film and everything it says, with every fiber of my being.” be.”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a statement Sunday, denouncing the government’s decertification of “Joyland” as “rabidly transphobic” and a violation of the filmmakers’ right to free speech.

“Viewers in Pakistan have the right to decide what they will watch,” the statement said.

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