‘Two ends of the spectrum are about to collide’: Saim Sadiq on Joyland’s achievements and release in Pakistan
Saim Sadiq’s film Joyland has become one of the most talked about movies on the roster of upcoming Pakistani films. It bagged the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard segment at the Cannes Film Festival, and is now Pakistan’s official submission to the Oscars. But for film director-writer Sadiq, he never really thought about Joyland achieving something for the country. His endeavour was “artistically driven”.
On Thursday, Sadiq appeared on Variety’s Streaming Room where he discussed Joyland’s Oscar submission, the film’s premiere in Pakistan and its genre.
He was asked about how he feels about representing Pakistan on a national level, to which he said, “I never really thought about that while making the film. That’s not [something] one tends to think about, you’re kind of too consumed by the story or the characters and your very personal need to tell that story and to have it out there. Especially as a first time filmmaker, I think it’s doubly true because you’re not really sure if you’ll actually make the film. So, just making the film in itself is kind of the goal, not any kind of reception or sort of representation of it on another level.”
Sadiq said it now feels great but initially, it “was a bit overwhelming” because when the news came out about Cannes, and the award in particular, it was “jarring” for him as he thought of how the film was going to be received back in Pakistan.
“It’s about to be released on November 18 in Pakistan so now it’s the two ends of the spectrum about to collide, hopefully for the better. It’s an added plus but I never really thought that the film should achieve something for the country. My endeavour was honestly very selfish and very artistically driven,” he said, referring to Joyland’s global achievements.
Film Joyland marks Sadiq’s feature-film debut. When asked about the genre, he hesitated to define it as “queer-cinema”.
“There was a film where there was a child who turns out to be a transgender, and it was a family drama, but it was a small part of the narrative. It was received with some controversy, but largely very well received. But again, it didn’t really take a queer cinema turn. It was very much a social issue, hot-button topic kind of cinema turn. It wasn’t really owning the queerness as far as the whole narrative is concerned and the ethos was not queer itself, I think, which is true for Joyland,” he explained.
According to Variety, the film is set in Lahore and narrates the story of the Ranas, a middle-class family with stringent and patriarchal family values. They are severed when the youngest son in the family, Haider, played by Ali Junejo, joins a dance theatre and falls for a transgender dancer named Biba, played by Alina Khan. It also stars Sarwat Gilani, Rasti Farooq, Sania Saeed, Sohail Sameer and Salmaan Peerzada.
Joyland will screen in theatres in Pakistan on November 18.