Pakistan lifts ban on oscar-entry movie ‘Joyland’

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According to a prime minister’s adviser, censors are lifting the restriction on Pakistan’s Oscar entry, “Joyland,” although some parts will be removed before the film is released nationwide.

The film, which tells the story of a married man’s love for a transgender woman, is Pakistan’s nomination for the Academy Awards next year and won an award at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

However, it has generated controversy in Pakistan, which has a majority of Muslims, and state censors this week barred its theatre showings, reversing an earlier release approval.

According to Salman Sufi, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the decision to lift the restriction was taken by a committee that the premier had appointed to assess the movie. He claimed that the film had only received minimal cuts from the board.

He said:

The decision is a simple yet powerful message that the government stands by freedom of speech and safeguards it, and cannot allow mere smear campaigns or disinformation to be used as choking creative freedom.

Moreover, he added:

Transgender people are as much citizens of Pakistan as anyone else. We have launched a hotline for their issues as well from the prime minister’s office and the prime minister is fully committed to safeguarding their rights.

The movie features Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gillani, Salman Peerzada, Sohail Sameer and Sania Saeed.

Written and directed by Saim Sadiq, produced by Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat and Lauren Mann, the movie is all set to release soon.

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