The government of Pakistan has banned the release of Oscar contender Joyland for containing ‘highly objectionable’ material. Directed by Saim Sadiq, the film was slated to release in theatres on November 18.
The move comes months after a certificate was issued clearing the movie for public viewing.
The story of the critically-acclaimed film revolves around a patriarchal family yearning for the birth of a baby boy to continue the family line, while their youngest son secretly joins an erotic dance theater and falls for an ambitious transsexual starlet.
According to media reports, Joyland came under heavy criticism in Pakistan and it was branded ‘un-Islamic’ by a section of society.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting claimed it has been receiving complaints that the film contains ‘highly objectionable material’ as the reason for its decision.
نےمتنازع فلم جوائےلینڈکوجاری کردہ نمائش کالائسنس منسوخ کردیاہے۔نوٹیفیکیشن جاری،یہ حکومت کااحسن اقدام ہے۔پاکستان اسلامی مملکت ہےیہاں کوئی قانون، کوئی اقدام،کوئی نظریہ خلافِ اسلام نہیں چل سکتا۔#BanJoyland pic.twitter.com/tib00zo6Dd
— Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan (@SenatorMushtaq) November 12, 2022
An order issued by the ministry states that the film does not conform with the “social values and moral standards of our society and is clearly repugnant to norms of decency and morality.”
Sadiq’s directorial debut film will compete for a spot in the final five of the best international feature category at the 2023 Academy Awards.
Needless to mention, the cast of Joyland, members of the LGBTQ community and film critics have expressed their disappointment over the government’s decision.
Actress Sarwat Gilani said that a “paid smear campaign” has been doing the rounds against the film, recounting that Joyland made history for Pakistani cinema and got cleared by the censor boards.
There’s a paid smear campaign doing rounds against #Joyland, a film that made history for Pakistani cinema, got passed by all censor boards but now authorities are caving into pressure from some malicious people who have not even seen the film. #ReleaseJoyland @MoIB_Official
— sarwat gilani (@sarwatgilani) November 12, 2022
The film had its world premiere at Cannes earlier this year where it won the Queer Palm and the jury prize at the festival’s Un Certain Regard strand. It subsequently had its North American premiere at Toronto. The film was also played at the BFI London Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival.