The award-winning film “Joyland” opened in cinemas in parts of Pakistan Friday, after authorities in the South Asian country overturned a ban imposed following complaints that the local film was not suitable for viewing.
Directed by Saim Sadek, “Joyland” tells the love story between the youngest son of a “happy co-parental family” and a transgender star he meets after secretly joining an erotic dance scene, according to a brief on the Cannes Film Festival website.
The story seemed too sensitive for the Pakistani government, which last week revoked the film’s certification after receiving written complaints that it contained “highly objectionable material”.
However, government advisor Salman Sofi tweeted Wednesday that the review committee of the censorship board had cleared the film, With the required amendments, adding: “Freedom of expression is a basic right and must be nurtured within the limits of the law.”
The film was listed for screening in some theaters across Pakistan on Friday, except in Punjab province, where the Ministry of Information and Culture said it could not be shown “in the wake of persistent complaints from various quarters”.
As of Thursday evening, the filmmakers had not issued an official statement regarding the nationwide repeal of the 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 submitted to the Academy Awards as Pakistan’s official entry for the International Narrative Film Award. According to the official academy rules, you must play In theaters for at least seven days prior to November 30 to qualify for listing.
nationwide coup The ban followed a public outcry from human rights organizations and prominent Pakistanis including Malala Yousafzai, who is also the film’s executive producer.
In a post on Instagram, the film’s director, Sadiq, urged authorities to reconsider the ban, and one of his co-stars, Rusty Farooq, said in a blog post: “I stand by my film and everything it says, with every thread of my universe.”
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a statement On Sunday, he condemned the government’s recall of Joyland’s certification as “rabidly transphobic” and a violation of film producers’ right to free speech.
“Pakistani audiences have the right to decide what they will watch,” the statement said.