Home Culture Pakistani Film ‘Joyland’ Wins Jury Prize at Cannes

Pakistani Film ‘Joyland’ Wins Jury Prize at Cannes

Saim Sadiq’s debut feature had earlier gotten a standing ovation during its screening at the film festival

by Staff Report

The cast and crew of ‘Joyland’ at Cannes

Pakistani film Joyland on Friday won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, making history by becoming the first movie from Pakistan to not only compete at the prestigious event, but also win accolades.

One of 20 feature films considered for the Un Certain Regard Competition, which focuses on arthouse, artistically daring films, Joyland is set in Lahore and tells the tale of the youngest son in a patriarchal family who becomes a background dancer and falls in love with the troupe’s director, a transwoman played by Alina Khan. It received a lengthy standing ovation at its screening, with director Saim Sadiq telling Al Jazeera he was “still processing” the appreciation of the film.

According to the AFP news agency, part of the audience’s surprise over Joyland was the discovery by many at Cannes that Pakistan was one of the first nations to grant legal protection against discrimination to transgender people. “Pakistan is very schizophrenic, almost bipolar,” Sadiq told AFP. “You get, of course, prejudice and some violence against a particular community on the one hand, but you also get this very progressive law, which basically allows everyone to identify their own gender, and also identifies the third gender,” he added.

As well as winning the Jury Prize, Joyland is also a contender for the Caméra d’Or (Golden Camera), an award given to a first-time director. It also won the Queer Palm, an independently sponsored prize for selected LGBT-relevant films entered into the Cannes Film Festival.

The win has been celebrated in Pakistan, with actor Osman Khalid Butt hailing it has a “historic moment for Pakistan, and Pakistani cinema!” in a posting on Twitter. “Everyone should be amplifying this incredible news. Take a bow, Saim, and the entire cast and crew,” he added. Actor Mahira Khan, similarly, said she was “bursting with pride and joy” after the film received a standing ovation during its premiere.

Joyland has taken one of the Jury Prizes at Cannes 2022—exploring issues of family, gender and diversity,” wrote Canada’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Wendy Gilmour. “A triumph, and I can’t wait to see it in Pakistan!”

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