Months after a certificate was issued allowing the film Joyland to be viewed by the general public, Pakistani authorities have banned it on the grounds that it contains “highly objectionable material.” The government issued the certificate to Joyland on August 17, which is also Pakistan’s official Oscar entry. However, concerns about its content have recently been voiced. The ministry of information and broadcasting decided to outlaw the movie in response, ostensibly to prevent backlash from the nation’s conservatives. The ministry stated in its notification dated November 11 that the movie violates the “social values and moral standards” of the nation.
As stated in Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979, “Written complaints were received that the film contains highly objectionable material that does not conform with the social values and moral standards of our society and is obviously repugnant to the norms of decency and morality,” the minister stated in the notification. A spot in the top five of the best international feature category at the 2023 Academy Awards is up for grabs with Sadiq’s directing debut. The ministry’s order forbade the nation from watching the movie. The movie was slated to open in theatres in Pakistan on November 18.
The order stated: “The Federal Government declares the feature film titled Joyland as an uncertified film for the whole of Pakistan in the theatres which fall under the jurisdiction of CBFC with immediate effect in exercise of the powers provided by Section 9(2) (a) of the said Ordinance.” The patriarchal family in Joyland covertly enrols in an erotic dance company and develops feelings for a trans woman while they discreetly wait for the birth of a baby male to carry on the family line. The film, written and directed by Sadiq, stars Sania Saeed, Ali Junejo, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Rasti Farooq, Salmaan Peerzada, and Sohail Sameer in a supporting role.
The only conservative Jamaat-e-Islami senator in the Pakistani Senate, Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, applauded the government’s decision to outlaw the movie, claiming it was incompatible with Islam.
Joyland won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the Queer Palm award at the renowned Cannes Film Festival, where it was the first Pakistani film to be screened. Additionally, the film was shown at the Busan International Film Festival as well as the Toronto International Film Festival. It was presented the young cinema prize for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards on Friday in collaboration with the Griffith Film School and the critics’ organisation NETPAC.
Since its Cannes premiere, where it was the first Pakistani film to screen at the festival, the movie has screened at numerous festivals, most recently at the Dharamshala International Film Festival in India. Additionally, it played at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the Cannes Queer Palm. This past weekend, it took home the Young Cinema Award at the Australia-based Asia Pacific Screen Awards.