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Wednesday, June 7, 2023
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Pakistan bans Joyland for screening on ‘objectionable content’

The film was slated to release in Pakistan on November 18 after initial clearance from all censor boards in August. The film has to get clearance from Federal and all provincial censor boards before release.

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Censor Board in Pakistan bans its official Oscar entry movie, ‘Joyland’ citing it against the norms and values of Pakistan. Joyland is the South Asian nation’s official entry to Oscar. Filmmaker Saim Sadiq calls the ban unconstitutional.

The storyline revolves around the love relationship between a man and a transgender woman. The ban by the censor board has triggered a new debate on social media regarding censorship in Pakistan. The film, even before its release in Pakistan, has won global appreciation in film festival circuits including at Cannes earlier this year.

The film was slated to release in Pakistan on November 18 after initial clearance from all censor boards in August. The film has to get clearance from Federal and all provincial censor boards before release.

The decision was reversed after objections were raised by the leader of the religious party in Pakistan. The movie was declared ‘ineligible for the whole of Pakistan.’

“Written complaints were received that the film contains highly objectionable material which does not conform with the social values and moral standards of our society,” the notification issued on Friday stated. The license for the screening of the movie was suspended.

 

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A post shared by Saim Sadiq (@saim.sadiq)

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami praised the ban in the tweet. He said, “Alhamdulillah! @GovtofPakistanhas canceled the exhibition license issued to the controversial film Joyland. The notification is ongoing, this is a good move by the government. Pakistan is an Islamic state, no law, no action, and no ideology can be run against Islam. #BanJoyland.”

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“It’s a Trans love story that has already won the Queer Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival and has been lauded for the LGBT themes it explores. This is nothing short of an anti-Islamic attack on the institutions of Nikkah and marriage, the Information Ministry must immediately stop the film from releasing in Pakistan,” Ahmed had said in the video released a few days ago.

Film’s cast and crew have recorded their protest on social media. Director Saim Sadiq has penned a long note on Instagram. Our film got screened and certified by all three censor boards in August 2022.” He further added that the ministry had gone against the constitution by asking provincial censor boards to follow its decision, and suggested that the 18th amendment gives each province autonomy to make its provincial calls.

“The 18th amendment in the Pakistani constitution gives all provinces the autonomy to make their own decision. Yet the ministry suddenly caved under pressure from a few extremist factions – and made a mockery of our federal censor board by rendering their decision irrelevant. In addition to that, this Ministry has also gone against the constitution by ordering all the other provincial censor boards (Sindh and Punjab) to follow its decision– an order that it has no constitutional right to give and one that I hope is disregarded by Sindh and Punjab censor boards.”

Saim went on to remind everyone that legally, “Joyland is still certified to release in Punjab and Sindh on November 18.”

He thanked people for their continuous support on social media. Saim urged the ministry to review its decision. “I urge the Pakistani Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to please review this decision and return the right of our citizens to be able to watch the film that has made their country’s cinema proud the world over,” said Saim in his Instagram post.