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Censor Board Approves “Joyland” For Release With Few Small Changes

According to Salman Sufi, the head of the Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms, the film Joyland by director Saim Sadiq has been allowed for release in Pakistan after a commission found that it is fit for showing.

He wrote on Twitter, The Censor Board Review Committee, formed at the request of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has approved the release of the film Joyland. Freedom of expression should be preserved within the confines of the law because it is a fundamental right, says Sharif.

The ruling, according to Sufi, is a simple yet powerful statement that the government stands by freedom of expression and protects it, and cannot allow petty smear campaigns or disinformation to be used as a stifling creative freedom. However, the government still needs to remove Joyland’s “uncertified” status before the movie can be approved.

The film was reevaluated and deemed fit for release by an eight-member committee appointed by Prime Minister Shehbaz in response to calls for its release from supporters, legislators, and members of the film community.

According to a press release, the CBFC was instructed to consider complaints that the aforementioned film was contrary to social norms, and after careful consideration during its meeting in Islamabad yesterday, it came to the conclusion that the CBFC must immediately conduct a full board review in order to make a final determination about the film’s suitability for screening.

Malala Makes A Statement

Aur Sunao - Censor Board Approves "Joyland" For Release With Few Small Changes

Malala Yousafzai, the film’s executive producer, highlighted the restriction in a piece for Variety, claiming that 2022 was a successful year for Pakistani artists Ms. Marvel, the acclaimed Disney+ series starring the Marvel universe’s first Muslim superhero, was directed by episodes of Aftab, who also provided the country with its first Grammy award, winning for best worldwide music performance.

She went on, Following standing ovations from film festival audiences around the world, Pakistan chose Joyland as its official Oscar submission on November 18 after it was first chosen to screen at Cannes, where it won a prized jury prize. Joyland was set to premiere in Pakistan, giving the cast and crew a chance to return home after a long absence and Pakistanis a chance to celebrate one of the best films ever made, but last week the government caved in to pressure from a vocal minority and overturned the censor board’s decision to approve the film, effectively banning it from Pakistani theaters.

Given that the majority of those complaining haven’t seen the film, it’s difficult to understand why they’re saying Joyland is’repugnant’ and unfit for Pakistani audiences, Malala continued, but many comments on social media focus on Biba, an aspirational dancer and trans woman played by 24-year-old Lahori actor Alina Khan.

Aur Sunao - Censor Board Approves "Joyland" For Release With Few Small Changes

She went on, It does not advocate for a certain point of view or make a call to action. Joyland is not activism disguised as art. From the old grandfather attempting to impose his will on his family to the young bride needing more than the men around her can offer, the film shows sympathy for every character.

She went on to say that the film is about how patriarchy impacts men, women, and children alike. It’s a film about the soothing effects of female solidarity and friendship. It’s a film on the cost of sacrificing our own goals in order to fit in with the rest of society. Joyland also contains a love letter to Pakistan’s people, culture, cuisine, and fashion.

How tragic that a film made by and for Pakistanis has been banned from our screens due to claims that it does not represent our way of life or projects a negative image of our country, when in fact the film reflects reality for millions of ordinary Pakistanis, people who yearn for freedom and fulfillment, people who create moments of joy every day for those they love, Malala responded.

The protester stated, citing examples of restricted art, Too often in my country, we expect art to serve as public relations. We want stories that show us as clearly heroes because we’re tired of seeing negative depictions of the rest of the globe. The most well-known films have male protagonists conquering terrible foes and female characters who are solely important in the context of their sexual interactions.

Aur Sunao - Censor Board Approves "Joyland" For Release With Few Small Changes

We look away when a movie like Sadiq’s highlights characters who are working class or transgender, as well as women who are fighting rigid and very real social conventions, she continued, and a numbness creeps in when we collectively decide that believing the dream is preferable to looking in the mirror.

From Kumail Nanjiani to Kamila Shamsie to Shahzia Sikander, so many of our best and brightest have found more success in Europe or the United States, Malala remarked, referring to art censorship rejecting the magnificent talent of Pakistani artists represented by a film like Joyland What message are we sending to the younger generation who, like Sadiq, want to shoot movies in Karachi or the Swat Valley if we criminalize works of art generated by our own people? 

Malala told the audience at the magazine’s Power of Women awards presentation in Los Angeles last month that Muslims make up 25% of the world’s population but only 1% of characters in popular television shows.

When Muslims do appear on television, they are frequently depicted as terrorists or victims; I, along with other Pakistani and Muslim creators, hope to contribute to the solution to that Hollywood problem We should be the first, loudest, and most enthusiastic supporters of artists who tell our stories. However, audiences must be open to the truth when it is expressed by our filmmakers. Joyland has given Pakistan the opportunity, but we must be willing to grasp it. 

Backstory

Aur Sunao - Censor Board Approves "Joyland" For Release With Few Small Changes

Since the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) rescinded its permission after receiving complaints over objectionable material, the hashtags “Ban Joyland” and “Release Joyland” have been trending on social media.

Sadiq previously told The Express Tribune that, despite its considerable critique of gender roles, Joyland will not irritate censor boards or the Pakistani population at large. Sadiq has also stated several times that the film contains nothing objectionable.

Minor changes to the film are expected for tomorrow’s release.

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