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BBFC Ratingf-rated FilmJoyland

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Director(s)Saim Sadiq
Writer(s)Saim Sadiq, Maggie Briggs
LanguagePunjabi, Urdu
Running Time2HR 6MINS
Extra InfoEnglish subtitles
SeasonMain Programme

A conservative family in Pakistan is torn apart when a son falls in love with a transgender erotic dancer, in Saim Sadiq’s riveting queer drama.

Haider (Ali Junejo) is an unemployed married man living in Lahore. Sensitive in disposition and accepting of his wife’s ambitions, he finds his masculinity ridiculed by his stern, elderly father and older alpha-male brother.

Encountering Biba (Alina Khan), a trans woman who performs in an erotic theatre group, Haider finds welcome release in this safe space. Employed as a back-up dancer in her act, Haider and Biba fall in love, upturning the uneasy balance of his family.

Sadiq’s drama skilfully details the corrosive nature of patriarchy in all aspects of traditional family life, from sons, daughters and wives, and the limiting roles they are expected to play, to the circumscribed behaviour of fathers. The result is a fearless yet sensitive exploration of gender expectations and taboos.

Pakistan’s Oscar hopeful was initially banned from cinemas in its home country, a decision that has been partially overturned. However, in Punjab, Sadiq’s home state and the setting for Joyland, the ban remains in place.

Content warning: very strong language, strong sex, discrimination, suicide. See the BBFC website for more information.

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