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Life & Style

The 'Joyland' saga continues, but its entry into Oscars remains intact

  • PM Shehbaz has called for review after it was banned from release in Pakistan
  • Rules for Oscars, however, stipulate its potential seven-day screening run in France will enable entry
Published November 15, 2022
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
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Following a ban on its release in Pakistan, director Saim Sadiq’s 'Joyland' – Pakistan’s entry for the Oscar’s this year – has caught the attention of policymakers including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif who set up a committee to review the situation.

This was announced in a series of tweets by Head of PM Strategic Reforms Salman Sufi ahead of the movie's release, which was scheduled for November 18.

‘Joyland’, Pakistan’s entry to the Oscars for best international feature, has been collecting critical acclaim on the international film festival circuit, including picking up the Queer Palm and the Jury Prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

Pakistan's film 'Joyland' wins Jury Prize at Cannes

On November 12, the government of Pakistan banned the film’s release in the country, citing “highly objectionable” material.

An order dated November 11 from Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting reads that the country’s censor board granted a censor certificate to the film on August 17, but has since reversed the decision.

This was released via Twitter by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan on November 12.

As it turns out, it has also been reported that 'Joyland' could still qualify for the upcoming Academy Awards in the best international feature category, despite the ban, according to Variety.

‘Joyland’ shortlisted as Pakistan's entry at the Oscars in 2023

Award strategists working on 'Joyland' plan to give the film its required seven-day theatrical run in France by November 30, which is the qualifying release date cut-off for the Oscars’ international feature category, reported Variety.

The official Academy rules state: in order for films to more easily meet theatrical exhibition requirements, the Academy will allow films to qualify outside the country of origin, provided the film is theatrically exhibited outside of the U.S. and its territories for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for paid admission. The International Feature Film Executive Committee will evaluate all matters of rules and eligibility.

In order to be eligible for the international category solely, the U.S. cannot be used for the seven-day theatrical run. If the film had plans to be submitted in the general categories, such as best picture, it would have required to have a seven-day release in the U.S. However, the film does not currently have distribution as of yet.

In addition, Pakistan cannot retroactively choose another film as its entrant, added the Variety report.

Malala joins Pakistan's Oscar submission 'Joyland' as Executive Producer

Directed and co-written by Saim Sadiq, the film tells the story of Haider (Ali Junejo) who while working as a background dancer falls in love with Biba (Alina Khan), a transgender person.

In response to the ban, Sadiq released a note on his Instagram account, stating that the ban-reversal was “unconstitutional” and “illegal”, tagging Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and PM Shehbaz.

Following the ban, celebrities and media professionals lashed out at curbing the arts and subject matter of the film, calling for its release under the hashtag #ReleaseJoyland, which soon began trending.

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