Updated 23 Dec, 2022

Joyland may have faced trials and tribulations in its home country but to the international community, it was a banger from the start. The film has been shortlisted for the Oscars, the first ever movie to do so from Pakistan.

On Thursday, the Academy released its Oscar shortlists for the 95th Awards for 10 categories. Joyland is among 15 films that made the cut for the best International Feature Film category and will advance to the nomination process. Films from 92 countries and regions were eligible in the category. Last Film Show also made it to the list, India’s second nomination since Lagaan from 20 years ago, according to Deadline.

Other films in the same category include Argentina’s Argentina, 1985, Austria’s Corsage, Belgium’s Close, Cambodia’s Return to Seoul, Denmark’s Holy Spider, France’s Saint Omer, Germany’s All Quiet on the Western Front, Ireland’s The Quiet Girl, Mexico’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, Morocco’s The Blue Caftan, Poland’s EO, South Korea’s Decision to Leave and Sweden’s Cairo Conspiracy.

Malala, who recently joined team Joyland as executive producer, dialled up director Saim Sadiq to congratulate him on the milestone and share this “moment of Pakistani pride”.

Joyland’s producer Apoorva Guru Charan re-shared the phone call video and gushed over her “wonderful” team.

Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, chair of the Pakistani Academy Selection Committee this year, shared the “incredible” news on Instagram and said there is much to celebrate since Joyland is the first Pakistani film on the shortlist, 10 years after the committee was formed.

Interestingly, this is not the first first for Joyland. It was also the first film from Pakistan to make it to the Cannes Film Festival where it won awards and received a standing ovation. Since then, it has been to several international film festivals, earning prestige all over.

Its release in Pakistan, sadly, was a tricky affair. After being cleared by the censor board, it was declared “uncertified” for containing “highly objectionable material” that goes against Pakistani society’s “social values and moral standards”. After facing backlash by celebrities and the public for this decision, PM Shehbaz Sharif formed a committee to review this decision and the ban was revoked. Punjab reinstated the ban in the province though the film was released everywhere else and elicited glowing reviews.

Joyland, you have had a long, tiring journey but that’s how it can be for those who are going places and doing great things. Congratulations!