Pakistan’s “Joyland” could still qualify for the upcoming Academy Awards for best international feature, despite being banned in its native country, which was announced on Nov. 12.
The government of Pakistan banned Saim Sadiq’s Oscar contender — which is Pakistan’s Oscar entry —for containing “highly objectionable” material. An order dated Nov. 11 from Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting reads that the country’s censor board granted a censor certificate to the film on Aug. 17, but has since reversed the decision.
Nonetheless, the awards strategists working on “Joyland” tell Variety they plan to give the film its required seven-day theatrical run in France by Nov. 30, which is the qualifying release date cutoff for the Oscars’ international feature category.
The official Academy rules state: In order for films to more easily meet theatrical exhibition requirements, the Academy will allow films to qualify outside the country of origin, provided the film 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. The International Feature Film Executive Committee will evaluate all matters of rules and eligibility.
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To be clear, to be eligible for the international category solely, the U.S. cannot be used for the seven-day theatrical run. If the film had plans to be submitted in the general categories, such as best picture, it would have to be required to have a seven-day release in the U.S. However, the film does not currently have distribution as of yet.
In addition, Pakistan cannot retroactively choose another film as its entrant.
Directed and co-written by Saim Sadiq, the film tells the story of Haider (Ali Junejo), the youngest son of the Ranas family, who while working as a background dancer, falls in love with Biba (Alina Khan), a transgender woman.
“Joyland” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival where it won the Queer Palm and the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize.
Sadiq released a statement via his Instagram account calling the Pakistan government’s about face “absolutely unconstitutional and illegal.”
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