Pakistan bans its Oscar entry from nationwide release

by Subhechcha Ganguly
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The Oscar 2023 entry Joyland by acclaimed director Saim Sadiq has been banned by Pakistani authorities, who claim it contains “highly objectionable material that does 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.”

On August 17, the government reportedly granted the film a screening permit. The film was set to be released in theatres in Pakistan on November 18, but the government banned it after pressure from hardline Islamic groups that called its depiction of a love affair between a man and a trans woman “repugnant.”

Sadiq’s directorial debut film will compete for a spot in the final five of the Academy Awards’ best international feature category in 2023.The plot revolves around a ‘patriarchal family’ desiring a baby boy to carry on the family line. The family’s youngest son secretly joins an erotic dance theater. He then falls in love with a transgender woman.

Director Saim posted a message on Instagram shortly after the ban, protesting the authorities’ choice. In a message, the filmmaker asked fans to help them in their effort to release Joyland. Saim wrote that he feels “compelled” to call attention to this “illegal and unconstitutional” Ministry of Information and Broadcasting decision.

For the Best International Feature Film category, India has submitted Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show. A film must have played in theatres for at least a week in its home nation in order to be eligible for this category.

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