Threatened with banning, this audacious film and Oscar candidate arrives at the cinema

Threatened with banning in his country, this audacious Pakistani film, in the running for the Oscar for best foreign film, will be released in cinemas in France this Wednesday. Focus on Joyland, the first feature film directed by Saim Sadiq selected at Cannes this year.

In Lahore, Haider and his wife live together with his brother’s entire family. In this house where everyone lives under the gaze of others, Haider is asked to find a job and become a father. The day he finds a small job in a cabaret, he falls under the spell of Biba, a sensual and magnetic dancer. While feelings are born, Haider finds himself torn between the injunctions which weigh on him and the irresistible call of freedom.

It’s a rarity that hits our screens this Wednesday. Joyland, Saim Sadiq’s first feature, comes to us from Pakistan. Film production is still relatively small there, and feature films from it to cross our borders are rare.

Joyland was able to benefit from good visibility last May, by being selected at the Cannes Film Festival, in Un Certain Regard, a section highlighting first films or singular films. Joyland therefore fitted in perfectly.


Joyland seduces with its way of highlighting Pakistan, and its radiography of a patriarchal society. Through the prism of a singular love story, and colorful photography, the film has been noticed and distinguished on several occasions, including the Queer Palm 2022. Haider, the main character of the film will fall in love with a transgender woman.

Pakistan is based on a very patriarchal system. But it’s also paradoxically a place where trans women are very visible and very important… It’s impossible to walk down the street without coming across one. They will most likely be begging, but they are there, they are not hiding. Coexistence, although superficial, does exist. They have always been there. Before British colonization, they had a better social status. They were associated with poetry, princesses, good manners. Colonization, among many other things, completely destroyed this cultural particularity.”

Joyland is still in the running to represent Pakistan at the Oscar for best international film. He is one of the 15 finalists, alongside in particular Saint Omer who could represent France.

Note that the film was threatened with a ban in Pakistan, even though it had “got the green light from three censorship bureaus“. Last November, the Pakistani Ministry of Information and Broadcasting announced “its ban on the grounds of a ‘highly questionable content'”, specifies Liberation in its columns this morning.

Director Saim Sadiq mobilized the public on Instagram to have this ban lifted.

Censorship has only been partially lifted. Joyland he film could not be released in Punjab,”which is particularly sad because it is not only the biggest province in the country, where the majority of the cinemas are located, but it is also where the film was shot“, says Saim Sadiq, still in Liberation.

The case is still in court, he continues. The selection for the Oscars dates from before the controversy, and comes from an independent committee in which the government does not interfere. Pakistan is full of contradictions…“, he concludes.

Find all the cinema releases of the week

Previously, Joyland received a warm welcome at Cannes and brought Pakistani independent cinema to the fore for the first time at a festival of this scale. “Our film industry is very young. We produce maybe two or three big comedies a year, saying absolutely nothing about our society. For some time, however, we have seen the emergence of an independent cinema, in particular thanks to my producer, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, very well known in Pakistan”, explains Saim Sadiq in the press kit.

With Joyland, I think, I hope! we did a good job. At the end of the screening [cannoise], two young boys who had come specially from Pakistan took me in their arms, they were in tears. One of them couldn’t speak. In my opinion, their emotion went far beyond that aroused by fiction. I think they recognized each other on screen. Finally we looked at them.”

Joyland was released in France this Wednesday, December 28, 2022.

We would like to thank the writer of this short article for this outstanding web content

Threatened with banning, this audacious film and Oscar candidate arrives at the cinema