ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday cleared a controversial but critically acclaimed film Joyland — Pakistan’s official entry for Oscars 2023 — after omitting some “objectionable and immoral” scenes from it.
An eight-member review committee set up by the prime minister on Tuesday “cleared the film after deleting some objectionable scenes in it”, Hafiz Tahir Khalil, a senior journalist who was part of the committee, told Dawn.
Salman Sufi, head of the Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms, also confirmed that the government had decided to clear the film for release after a second review by the committee. “Freedom of speech is a fundamental right and should be nourished within ambits of the law,” he tweeted.
Joyland, directed by Saim Sadiq, won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the unofficial Queer Palm at Cannes in May. It was then submitted to the 95th Academy Awards, to be held in March, as Pakistan’s official entry for the international feature film award.
According to the Academy, the film needs to be in cinemas for at least seven days before Nov 30 to remain a contender.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed an eight-member committee to look into complaints that the film was “against social and moral norms” and recommend follow-up action.
The committee concluded that certain scenes needed to be edited out of the film and decided to clear the film for release. However, the government did not immediately withdraw the notification of its ‘uncertified’ status.
However, Muhammad Tahir Hassan, head of the Central Board of Film Censors, told AFP news agency late on Wednesday that “there is no hindrance from the board for its screening”. He said: “The distributors can screen the film from tomorrow morning if they wish.”
The committee was formed after a massive outcry on social media at Joyland’s censorship certificate being withdrawn. The film was passed by all censor boards in the country but fell into trouble after complaints were filed to the Central Board of Film Censors.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting recently cancelled the film’s exhibition licence and the federal government declared Joyland “uncertified” after receiving complaints.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2022