Releasing in theatres on April 7, writer-director Saim Sadiq’s debut feature explores patriarchy and trans issues
Finally, a South Asian film about Queer Rights, which seems to go beyond the tokenization and equality talks. ‘Joyland,’ a Pakistani feature by Saim Sadiq has already been receiving critical acclaim.
The film won the Best International Film Award at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards. It also won the Queer Palm and Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes among other prizes.
The film releases in US theatres beginning with New York on April 7 and Los Angeles on April 21 followed by other cities. It’s definitely a leap of faith from the kind of cinema we have been seeing from the subcontinent.
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In recent few years the rise of indie films in India and Pakistan has seen a lot of thought provoking, off-beat ideas being portrayed on screen and win wide appreciation.
But when a film maker decides to make a movie where the protagonist finds love and infatuation in a trans woman – we know that a brave, new territory is being explored.
Coupled with it, the movie also raises pertinent questions about patriarchy in the society and especially in the context of South Asian patriarchal society.
The story revolves around Haider Ali played by Ali Junejo who lives with his wife Mumtaz played by Rasti Farooq. The setting is Lahore and the family set up depicts the traditional joint family household complete with father and elder brother where patriarchy is so rooted that one doesn’t even notice it.
After battling a long unemployed stint, Haider lands a job in a place where his traditional family won’t even dare to set foot in – a Bollywood style burlesque.
In almost as obvious as it is, Haider lies to his family about the nature of his job and passes it off as a more respectable job of a theatre manager. But this is where the tale gets more interesting.
He soon finds himself getting attracted to a strong trans woman Biba played by Alina Khan. Torn between his duty as a loyal husband and his desire towards this unusually attractive woman, Haider finds himself in an unlikely storm.
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The film captures the sights and sounds of the streets of Lahore and transports you there. But it is Lahore with a difference. It’s a place where different may still be taboo but there is a soft humanization of subjects never explored before and therein lies the triumph of Joyland.
The film is executive produced by Malala Yousafzai, Riz Ahmed, Ramin Bahrani, Jemima Khan, Hari Charna Prasad among others and was Pakistan’s official entry to Oscars 2023.