The Central Board of Film Censor (CBFC) on Wednesday allowed screening of Joyland, an internationally-acclaimed movie produced by Pakistani filmmakers, in theatres but only after censoring some of its parts.
It was made possible only after all the members of CBFC reviewed the movie on the directions of the federal government which had forced to intervene as banning the film triggered a strong reaction.
Earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had formed a special committee to evaluate complaints filed against Joyland which was banned almost a week before its release in Pakistan thanks to the objections raised by religious and other circles.
It comprised of minister for political affairs and economic affairs and law and justice chairperson, minister for information and broadcasting, minister for communications, minister for board of investment, minister for information technology and telecommunications, adviser to the PM on Gilgit-Baltistan, PTA chairman and PEMRA chairman.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the panel was assigned with the task of consider the complaints against the said film being against the social and moral norms, and recommend follow-up action.
Joyland, directed by Saim Sadiq, had been submitted as Pakistan’s official entry for best international feature film at the Oscars and was due for domestic release this week.
Despite being banned from release in Pakistan, “Joyland” could still qualify in this category if it is “theatrically exhibited outside of the U.S. and its territories for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for paid admission,” according to the official Academy rules.
The film was cleared by the country’s provincial as well as central censor boards in August. Films have to be passed by federal as well as provincial censor boards before they are allowed to be screened in theatres.
But a complaint by a religious party leader forced the federal censor board to reverse its earlier decision, and to declare the movie ineligible for the “whole of Pakistan”.
Joyland is set in Lahore and depicts the story of a young man who falls in love with a transgender woman. It debuted at the Cannes festival earlier this year, where it received accolades, including the Jury Prize as well as the Queer Palm award.
It has since won global praise at various film festivals and on Friday, the day it was banned in Pakistan, Sadiq received the Young Cinema Award at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Australia.
The movie was chosen as Pakistan’s official entry for the Academy Awards (Oscars) in September, and the youngest Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, has joined the Joyland team as an executive producer to promote it for the upcoming awards season.