The Independent Spirit Awards announced its nominations on Tuesday morning and Saim Sadiq’s Joyland has been nominated for Best International Film.
The film, that’s currently screening in Pakistan, will be competing against Marie Kreutzer’s Corsage, Martika Ramirez Escobar’s Leonor Will Never Die, Davy Chou’s Return to Seoul and Alice Diop’s Saint Omer.
Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s Everything Everywhere All at Once, starring Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis, led the tally with eight nominations — Best Feature, Best Director, Best Lead Performance, Curtis and Quan for Best Supporting Performance, Best Breakthrough Performance, Best Screenplay and Best Editing.
Right behind their film was Todd Field’s Tar with seven nominations and Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun with five.
Sadiq’s Joyland has many feathers in its cap, starting with it being the first Cannes entry for Pakistan and bagging the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard segment. It also got the Best Film award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne and, more recently, Joyland was selected as Pakistan’s official submission for the Oscars.
The film is set in Lahore and narrates the story of the Ranas, a middle-class family with stringent and patriarchal family values. These values 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. The film also stars Sarwat Gilani, Rasti Farooq, Sania Saeed, Sohail Sameer and Salmaan Peerzada.
Joyland was the subject of controversy in Pakistan because people believed it had ‘objectionable’ content. It was banned by the Central Board of Film Censors and then later unbanned by a committee formed by the prime minister. Despite the lifting of the ban, Punjab has not allowed it to be screened and people have approached the Peshawar High Court against it.
The Independent Spirit Awards will be held on March 4, 2023 in California, US.