Govt decides to clear Joyland for release in Pakistan: Salman Sufi

The government has decided to clear film Joyland for release after a second review by a committee formed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, head of the Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms Salman Sufi tweeted Wednesday night.

“Freedom of speech is [a] fundamental right and should be nourished within ambits of the law,” he said.

On Tuesday, PM Shehbaz 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 comprised of the minister for political affairs and economic affairs and law and justice chairperson, minister for information and broadcasting, minister for communications, minister for board of investment, minister for information technology and telecommunications, adviser to the PM on Gilgit-Baltistan, PTA chairman and PEMRA chairman.

The committee concluded that certain scenes needed to be edited out of the film. It has decided to clear the film for release, however, the government has not yet withdrawn the notification of its ‘uncertified’ status. It needs to do so in order for the film to be cleared.

The committee was formed after massive outcry on social media at Joyland’s censorship certificate being withdrawn.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 by people who had not even seen the film. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting canceled its exhibition license issued months earlier and the federal government declared Joyland “uncertified” after receiving complaints that “the film contains highly objectionable material which do not conform with the social values and moral standards of our society and is clearly repugnant to the norms of ’decency and morality; as laid down in Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979”.

Joyland has the distinction of being Pakistan’s first Cannes entry, bagging several awards at international film festivals and being chosen as Pakistan’s Oscar consideration nominee. It has been written and directed by Saim Sadiq, and produced by Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat and Lauren Mann. It features Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gillani, Salman Peerzada, Sohail Sameer and Sania Saeed. Shot in Lahore, it is a bittersweet tale of repressed desire and the quest for individual freedom.

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