June 18 Members’ Choice 8:30pm

Writer-director Saim Sadiq’s feature debut made history as the first Pakistani film to premiere at the Cannes FIlm Festival. The film is, however, American-financed. Born and raised in Pakistan, Sadiq studied at Columbia University and Joyland is produced by his fellow Columbia student Guru Charan, along with renowned Pakistani director and producer Sarmad Khasoot.

Activist Malala Yousafzai and British actor Riz Ahmed came on board as producers after the film had premiered at Cannes, to help raise its profile for theatrical release and the awards season. It went on to become the first Pakistani film nominated for the Best International Film Oscar.

The film’s three leads are all first-time feature film actors, supported by a cast of veteran film and TV actors well known in Pakistan. The husband and wife at the heart of the story, Haider and Mumtaz, are both played by theatre actors; few actors were keen to play Haider, a risky contravention of the traditional leading man role. Dancer Biba is played by a non-professional, Alina Khan, who also appeared in Sadiq’s Columbia thesis film, Darling.

Joyland was initially banned in Pakistan, where a member of the government called it a “direct attack on our beliefs”. The ban was later reversed, other than in the Punjab region, where most of the film is set.

It feels like a book of short stories. Not for a while have I been struck by so potent a sense of place … the tale that Sadiq tells is funny, forward and sometimes woundingly sad.” Anthony Lane, New Yorker.

An immediate crowdpleaser … At its heart this is a gently observed, honestly felt family story, not out to speak for any demographic as a whole … [with a] wry, intelligent script.” Guy Lodge, Variety.


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Film Information
Release year: 2022
Running time:   127 mins
Directed by: Saim Sadiq
Language: Punjabi, Urdu (English subtitles)
Country: Pakistan
Classification: 15
Genre: Drama
Starring: Ali Junejo,
Rasti Farooq,
Alina Khan,
Sarwat Gilani

Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard Jury Prize & Queer Palm
More info:

Rotten Tomatoes
WFC Audience Score:  83%

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