Pakistan bans its own official Oscar entry ‘Joyland’. Here's why

Published on Nov 15, 2022 01:32 PM IST

Joyland Banned: With this, the film-which became the first Pakistani film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival- can no longer be screened in Pakistan.

Joyland Banned: Poster of Saim Sadiq’s critically-acclaimed film Joyland.
Joyland Banned: Poster of Saim Sadiq’s critically-acclaimed film Joyland.

Pakistan has banned Saim Sadiq’s critically-acclaimed film Joyland, saying that it contains “highly objectionable material”, Associated Press reported. Joyland is a fictional story set in Lahore about a middle-class family in which a wheelchair-bound yet severe patriarch rules over his two sons and daughters-in-law. The patriarch wants his kids to give him grandchildren, but that all changes when his younger son Haider falls in love with Biba, an intersex dancer who he works for.

The film, Pakistan’s official entry for the 2023 Oscars, was granted a certificate allowing it to be screened by the Pakistani authorities in August this year. However, objections to the film’s content have been raised since then.

“Written complaints were received that the film contains highly objectionable material which do not conform with the social values and moral standards of our society and is clearly repugnant to the norms of ‘decency and morality’ as laid down in Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said.

Read more: Want Pak to have relations with US but…: Imran Khan draws parallel with India

With this, the film-which became the first Pakistani film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival- can no longer be screened in Pakistan.

“Shameful that a Pakistani film made by 200 Pakistanis over six years that got standing ovations from Toronto to Cairo to Cannes is being hindered in its own country,” actor Sarwat Gilani wrote.

Sociologist Nida Kirmani said, “Just found out that Joyland isn’t being released in Pakistan, a film that has been winning high praise from international audiences. Our decision makers are still treating Pakistani audiences like children, depriving us of art & culture under the guise of morality.”

Filmmaker Javaria Waseem wrote, “Two years ago, when I left Pakistan, Zindagi Tamasha was banned under similar labels of ‘indecency and immorality’.

“Two years later, Joyland is being censored with the same tactics. It’s heartbreaking to see that things haven’t changed a bit, probably just gotten worse," Javaria Waseem further said.

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