“Joyland” made history by becoming the first Pakistani film to be selected as the official entry at this year’s Cannes film festival. Written and directed by debutant Saim Sadiq, this film is a moving take on gender and sexuality set in a busy Lahore household. It also became a clear crowd favorite and received a rapturous standing ovation.
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Now it has made history again by winning not one but two awards. The Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the Festival de Cannes as well as Queer Palm. One of the central characters in the film is a transwoman played by a real-life transwoman Alina Khan.
“Joyland” follows the relationship between a married man and a transgender erotic dancer. Patriarchy works insidiously and as the film examines gender and social norms you are forced to marvel at how sensitively each character and the story unfolds.
It’s a busy household with a wheelchair-bound father-in-law, his two sons, daughters-in-law, and their children – where any sort of transgression is forbidden and frowned upon.
At the press conference Sarwat Gilani who plays one of the daughters-in-law Nuchi called it a “dream come true”. “For a film like Joyland to represent Pakistan is a huge honor and it gives an entirely different perspective of Pakistani cinema to the world.” Although it’s Independent cinema and not commercial therefore not making a lot of money, investors are hesitant to come on board, but she hopes that will change after “Joyland” making a mark at Cannes.
She also went on to add, “Every project that comes out of Pakistan be it “Churails” or “Qaatil Haseenaaon Ke Naam” or now this (“Joyland”) is showing the true representation of Pakistan. It differs from what we see on news channels and I am so glad we are stepping up our game and taking the responsibility of showcasing our narratives to the world on a global platform.”
The award for “Joyland” represents a global breakthrough of immeasurable proportions for the relatively small Pakistani movie industry making us all so proud.