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Best International Film
Film Independent Spirit Awards, 2023

A film of groundbreaking firsts — the first Pakistani film to play at the Cannes Film Festival and to be shortlisted for the Best International Feature Oscar®. Initially banned in its home country for its LGBTQ+ themes, JOYLAND is a visually radiant, subversive family drama set in the bustling megacity of Lahore. Pressured to earn his own salary, soft-spoken house husband Haider is hired to dance in an erotic show — something he’s at pains to hide from his nosy family. He’s drawn to the show’s star, an irrepressible trans woman (Alina Khan, in a tour-de-force performance); their relationship predictably takes unpredictable turns. This striking feature debut upends traditional gender roles and identities through a story of complex and imperfect expressions of love. “Treads dangerous ground with confidence and compassion” – Siddhant Adlakha, IndieWire

With support from the R.G. Rifkind Foundation Endowment for Queer Cinema



Read excellent features about JOYLAND in The New York Times and The New Yorker.

 “Funny, forward, and bracingly political…Pakistani director Saim Sadiq’s sensuous film mounts an indictment of misogyny and transphobia without ever lecturing us.”
– Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

“Brimming with life and novelistic detail. This is a movie about people who find their inner lives and sense of themselves don’t match up to what is expected of them…a delicate, intelligent and emotionally rich film. What a debut from Sadiq.”
– Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)

“Wonderful. JOYLAND’s quiet power comes not through melodrama, which Sadiq scrupulously avoids, but its deep affection for its characters.”
– Kaleem Aftab, Time Out

“A bittersweet and melancholic interrogation of sexuality and gender roles that pulls very few punches. Sadiq and cinematographer Joe Saade offer evocative compositions—shots with deep depths of field and intelligent blocking—in their provocative story. A bold and elegant statement.”
– Robert Daniels,

“Luminous. Impresses with its sensitive storytelling and vibrant visuals. This is nuanced, humane queer filmmaking. Trans actor (Alina) Khan is terrific, leavening proceedings when required with suitably diva-esque saltiness, but also revealing the variously layered defense mechanisms required to survive as a trans woman in a broadly unaccepting, sternly patriarchal and religiously bound society.”
– Guy Lodge, Variety



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