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Director Saim Sadiq’s feature debut ‘Joyland’ screens at the Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first Pakistani movie to receive an official selection at the celebrated event.

The movie, premiering at the Un Certain Regard strand, will also compete for the Caméra d’Or, reported Variety magazine. The selection runs alongside the prestigious Palme d’Or.

The category for feature films at Cannes accepts a total of 14 films each year.

Joyland's storyline explores a patriarchal family system, yearning for 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.

“I came from a very morally upright, middle-class conservative family," Sadiq was quoted as saying by Variety. "To find out that this other world exists, literally like a 10-minute drive from my house, that I never knew of. It’s so different, the world of the theater, where sexuality is not such a taboo where women can get on stage and be in such positions of power, where this is a certain form of erotica.

“It’s the same people who are probably sitting at a family dinner in my house, who probably are later going in and watching those shows sometimes, and then pretending that they’re not the same person existing in both worlds. For me, it became an interesting way of examining myself, my family and the world around me with a particular focus on gender and intimacy,” he adds.

The film stars Ali Junejo, Alina Khan, Rasti Farooq, Sarwat Gilani, Sohail Sameer, Salman Peerzada, and Sania Saeed.

At the screening, Gilani was dressed by Pakistani designer Elan on the red carpet, according to an Instagram post.

The film is produced by Sarmad Khoosat, Apoorva Guru Charan, and Lauren Mann. One of the producers, Charan met Sadiq while they were both studying at Columbia film school and produced his 2018 short ‘Nowhere.’

“I read the script," said Charan of 'Joyland'. "And I was like, I have to produce this, I felt it in my blood and veins that this film needed to exist," added the Variety report.

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