2022, Saim Sadiq, Pakistan/USA

Director: Saim Sadiq
Producers: Apoorva Charan,
  Sarmad Khoosat, Lauren Mann
Screenplay: Saim Sadiq, Maggie Briggs
Cinematography: Jo Saade
Editors: Jasmin Tenucci, Saim Sadiq
Music: Abdullah Siddiqui
Ali Junejo (Haider)
Alina Khan (Biba)
Rasti Farooq (Mumtaz)
Sarwat Gilani (Nucchi)
Salmaan Peerzada (Rana Amanullah [Abba])
Sohail Sameer (Saleem)
Sania Saeed (Fayyaz)

Rating: M Sexual material, suicide, offensive language & content that may disturb Runtime: 126 minutes

When Saim Sadiq’s Joyland won the Queer Palm in 2022, it was the first Pakistani film to premiere at Cannes and did so to critical acclaim. Despite this, it was initially banned in the country, only being allowed to screen (albeit with cuts) after pressure from the public, Sadiq and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who served as Executive Producer.

Joyland is about an economically precarious Lahore family whose struggles with money are exacerbated by the dominance of patriarch Amanullah. Amanullah’s unemployed son Haider eventually finds work as a backup dancer for Biba, a trans woman who stars in an erotic stage show. With Haider now bringing money home, Amanullah pressures Haider’s wife Mumtaz to quit her own job and focus on giving him a grandson. The patriarchal pressure, economic strain and disruptive presence of Biba in their lives threaten the stability of the traditional family unit.

Western viewers, used to depictions of trans characters who painstakingly doubt themselves while applying makeup in a mirror, may be surprised by the depiction of Biba as completely comfortable in her body. What is so effective about Joyland is the way that the cis-gender characters are the ones who are forced to interrogate their own relationships with gender and sexuality.

“Tartly funny and plungingly sad in equal measure, this is nuanced, humane queer filmmaking, more concerned with the textures and particulars of its own intimate story than with grander social statements — even if, as a tale of transgender desire in a Muslim country, its very premise makes it a boundary-breaker.” – Guy Lodge, Variety


Jul 01 2024


6:15 pm - 8:25 pm