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Pakistan lifts the embargo on an Oscar candidate

by Subhechcha Ganguly
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Pakistan is going to be a wonderful journey for “Joyland.” The Shehbaz Sharif administration has lifted the embargo on Saim Sadiq’s Oscar-nominated Cannes entry, according to a senior adviser, as reported by “Variety.” The revelation was announced on Twitter by Salman Sufi, the head of Prime Minister Sharif’s Strategic Reforms team and a strong opponent of the ban. According to him, the movie can now be released, albeit with some small changes.

According to “Variety,” Sufi said, “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 a choking creative freedom.”

Variety reports that Sufi tweeted on November 13 in response to the ban on “Joyland,” saying, “I personally do not believe in banning films that highlight difficulties experienced by marginalised elements of our society. It is important to let people watch and form their own opinions.

Sufi announced on November 14 that Sharif has established a high-level committee to evaluate the movie and reevaluate the prohibition. To determine whether it should be released in Pakistan, the committee considered the pros and complaints. The committee had “suggested a complete board review” of the movie by the censor board to [reevaluate its appropriateness for exhibition], according to Sufi on November 16. It’s crucial to avoid making unfounded assumptions about material. The board will examine and then recommend.

According to Variety, Pakistan’s censor board had given the movie a censor certificate on August 17; however, the Information and Broadcasting ministry later overturned that decision on November 11 in response to written complaints that the movie was “repugnant” and contained “highly objectionable material that do not conform with the social values and moral standards” of Pakistani society.The main character of the movie covertly joins an exotic dancing company and ends up falling for a trans-starlet who is ferociously ambitious. The “Joyland” team and Sadiq had challenged the judgement. Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel laureate and executive producer of the movie, had before spoken out against the ban.

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