Why Is Joyland Being Banned In Pakistan?

Joyland, Pakistan's official Oscar entry that won a Cannes award, was banned by the Central Board of Film Censors shortly before it hit theatres.

Joyland, created by Saim Sadiq, set a record in May this year as it became the only Pakistani motion picture to take home a feminist-themed prize at the famous Cannes Film Festival. Cinephiles were very interested in the project’s particular subject because it hadn’t been exhibited in Pakistan.

It was practically a given that Pakistan’s Oscar Selection Committee would choose Joyland as its official submission for the Oscars in 2023 once it had received widespread acclaim internationally. Now next phase was for it to be shown in Pakistani theatre. The requisite censor permit was granted two months later, on Aug. 17, by the CBFC (Central Board of Film Censors), and as of Nov. 18 the movie was (was meant to be) shown in Pakistani theatres.

However, on November 11 (Friday), the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting revoked license of Joyland. Reason? It is said that written complaints have been received that the film shows highly objectionable content that does not comply with the sociocultural values and ethical standards of our culture and is obviously repulsive to the standards of decency and morality as laid listed in Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979. The notification’s second point peruses this fact.

The actors and crew of Joyland reacted angrily to the circumstance. They posted a note on social media right away. In a statement, its director Sadiq said, “we as a team are gutted by this development. I am compelled to say that this sudden U-turn of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is absolutely unconstitutional and illegal.”  He claimed that because the regions gained independence as a result of the 18th Amendment, the administration had violated the law by requesting that provincial censorship boards implement its ruling.

“They’re doing it again!” Sarwat Gilani, who has a significant part in the movie, said in a tweet. “There are smear campaigns to ban Joyland. We need your support to make sure we don’t let these violent, insensitive, extremists win again”.

“Shameful that a Pakistani film made by 200 Pakistanis over six years that got standing ovations from Toronto to Cairo to Cannes is being hindered in its own country. Don’t take away this moment of pride and joy from our people,”  she urged.

Co-producer and casting director Sana Jafri of Joyland, in an interview, told that they had received approval from the censorship authorities of the federal capital, Punjab, and Sindh, where the movie was to be presented.

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