Pakistan authorities Wednesday announced that the previously-banned film “Joyland” has been cleared for release. “Joyland” follows the love story between a young man and a transgender actress.On November 11, authorities announced that “Joyland” was not certified for release due to “highly objectionable material” that does not conform “with the social and moral standards” of Pakistan. Amnesty International Researcher and Policy Advisor on Gender Nadia Rahman said the ban came at a time when “the right to freedom of expression and the already limited rights of transgender people are under increasing threat in the country.”After intense domestic and international backlash, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed a committee to review the decision, and at the committee’s request, the full Pakistan censor board viewed and reevaluated the film. Head of the Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms Salman Sufi announced the change in decision, saying, “Freedom of speech is fundamental right [and] should be nourished within ambits of the law.”In a statement, director Saim Sadiq wrote:I am compelled to point out that this sudden U-turn by the Pakistan Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is absolutely unconstitutional and illegal. Our film got seen and certified by all three censor boards in August 2022. The 18th ammendment in the Pakistani constitution gives all provinces the autonomy to make their own decision. Yet the Ministry suddenly caved under pressure from a few extremist factions – who have not seen the film – and made a mockery of our federal censor board by rendering their decision irrelevant.“Joyland” is Pakistan’s official submission to the Oscars and won the Un Certain Regard jury prize at Cannes Film Festival in May.
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