Authorities in Pakistan have decided to lift the ban for the screening of Joyland, the country’s official entry to Oscars 2023

The movie Joyland has been directed by Saim Sadiq and it follows the story of a man who falls in love with a transgender woman. Joyland has won prestigious international honors, including the Queer Palm, which is given to LGBTQ films at the Cannes Film Festival and the Jury Prize. 

Also Read | Andy Warhol’s nephew to auction 2 paintings of the pop artist at Philips

Joyland was scheduled to premiere in Pakistani theaters after receiving a screening permit from the relevant authorities but it was pulled from theaters just a week before its release following objections from religious leaders of Pakistan. The Pakistani Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had also banned the movie because it contained “highly objectionable material”.

In a notification dated November 11, the Ministry said, “written complaints were received that the film contains highly objectionable material which do not conform with the social values and moral standards of our society and is clearly repugnant to the norms of ‘decency and morality’ as laid down in Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979.”

Joyland is Pakistan’s official entry for the upcoming 2023 Academy Awards. The film has been receiving positive reviews at different international film festivals.

Also Read65th Grammy Nominations: 5 new categories added including songwriter of the year

After much discussion and many campaigns, the movie will now be seen in theaters on November 18. Saim Sadiq made his directorial debut with the film Joyland. The film features Sania Saeed, Ali Junejo, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Rasti Farooq, Salmaan Peerzada, and Sohail Sameer. 

Pakistani journalist Rafay Mahmood tweeted on Wednesday, “After the full board review by the censor board, #Joyland has been allowed for release all across Pakistan with minor cuts. Distributors are optimistic for November 18 release as initially planned. Congratulations to the entire team and all those who campaigned.”

Ailia Zehra also tweeted, “#Joyland has been cleared for release across Pakistan. The persistence of so many activists and artists has paid off. Thank you to @SalmanSufi7 and others in government who listened to reason.”

Salman Sufi, an aide to the Pakistani Prime Minister, also told The Associated Press that the government has decided to lift the ban. “The decision is a simple yet powerful message that the government stands by freedom of speech and safeguards it, and cannot allow mere smear campaigns or disinformation to be used as choking creative freedom.”

In an interview with The Guardian, Alina Khan, the trans lead actor of Joyland said the film had “nothing against Islam” and the trans community was “very upset” with the ban. She said, “I don’t understand how Islam can get endangered by mere films”.