CAA has signed director Saim Sadiq, who helmed “Joyland,” Pakistan’s official entry for the 95th Academy Awards, for representation.
Sadiq was named one of Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch” for 2023 in recognition of the film, which marks his debut feature. “Joyland” made its world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival — becoming the first Pakistani film to debut at the fest — where it was awarded the Un Certain Regard jury prize and the Queer Palm. The film has also been nominated for best international film at the 2023 Independent Spirit Awards and made history as Pakistan’s first film to be shortlisted for best international feature film at the Academy Awards.
Written and directed by Sadiq, the film tells the story of Haider (Ali Junejo), who lives with his wife Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq), his father and his elder brother’s family in Lahore, Pakistan. After a long spell of unemployment, Haider lands a job working as a background dancer at a Bollywood-style burlesque — though he tells his family he’s the theater’s manager — and falls in love with Biba (Alina Khan), a transgender woman who runs the show. Also starring in the project, which explores love and desire in a patriarchal society, are Sarwat Gilani, Sohail Sameer, Salmaan Peerzada and Sania Saeed.
“Initially, it was a bit overwhelming, because when the news came out about Cannes and then the award particularly, it was a bit jarring for me because I was like, ‘I’m not sure how this film’s going to be received,’” Sadiq told Variety film critic Guy Lodge, recounting the Cannes win in a conversation about “Joyland” for Variety’s Streaming Room series.
Following Cannes, “Joyland” screened at dozens of film festivals, including last month’s Sundance Film Festival, and won numerous awards, such as the young cinema award at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards; best ensemble at the Bangkok World Film Festival; and named best indie film at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.
A graduate of the University of Lahore and with an MFA in film directing from Columbia University, Sadiq got his start with a number of critically acclaimed short films.
His 2019 short “Darling” won the best short film award at the Venice Film Festival, where it was the first Pakistani film entered into competition. It was also an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival and received a Special Jury Recognition Award at SXSW. His 2018 short film, “Nice Talking to You,” won Vimeo’s best director award at the Columbia University Film Festival and made the BAFTA shortlist for best student film.
The filmmaker is also a recipient of the Kodak Student Scholarship Gold Award. Plus, his screenwriting was selected for the Open Doors Hub at the Locarno Film Festival and he received the Ezra Litwak Award for best screenplay in the Columbia University graduate film program.
In addition to CAA, Sadiq continues to be managed by Modern Literary Arts.