PM Shehbaz Sharif has formed a special committee to evaluate complaints filed against film Joyland which was banned almost a week before its release in Pakistan.
On Monday, a notice with the tag “most immediate” written on it was issued by the prime minister’s office in Islamabad. “Committee to deliberate on complaints against the Urdu film Joyland” was the subject, followed by a list of members included. They comprised of 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 will “consider the complaints against the said film being against the social and moral norms, and recommend follow-up action”. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is to provide secretariat support to the committee which is to report back on Tuesday (today) with its findings. A copy of the notice is available with Images.
Despite all its achievements — being Pakistan’s first Cannes entry, bagging several awards at international film festivals and being chosen as Pakistan’s Oscar consideration nominee — Joyland was still banned from a cinematic screening in its country of origin. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting canceled its exhibition license which was issued months ago. The federal government has 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”.
This action has resulted in a lot of backlash across the country — many celebrities have also spoken up, asking the authorities to release Joyland. The situation also evoked a strong reaction from the cast and crew of the project. They immediately took to social media to call for its release. Director Saim Sadiq issued a statement, saying, “We–as a team–are gutted by this development. I am compelled to say that this sudden U-turn of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is absolutely unconstitutional and illegal.” He said the ministry had gone against the Constitution by asking provincial censor boards to follow their decisions as the provinces have autonomy after the 18th Amendment to make their own decisions regarding censorship.