Home Latest News Despite Clearance, Objections to Screening of ‘Joyland’ Persist

Despite Clearance, Objections to Screening of ‘Joyland’ Persist

Cases against exhibition of award-winning film lodged at Lahore High Court, Peshawar High Court

by Staff Report

Screengrab from Joyland

Despite award-winning film Joyland being cleared for exhibition by Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors, the movie continues to face hurdles, as critics seek to get it banned through cases filed in various courts across the country.

On Tuesday, the Sindh High Court dismissed a petition seeking a ban on Joyland, declaring it was not maintainable because the petitioner had not even seen the film. In his plea, the petitioner had argued—all without having seen the film—that Joyland violated Article 227 (provisions relating to the holy Quran and Sunnah) of the Constitution and was “against the teachings of Islam.”

But while the Sindh High Court dismissed the petition against Joyland, cases against the film are still pending before the Lahore High Court and the Peshawar High Court.

On Tuesday, Justice Muzamil Akhtar Shabbir of the LHC overruled the registrar office’s objection to a petition against the exhibition of Joyland, directing for the case to be fixed for hearing before any appropriate bench. Filed by a resident of Lahore, the petition claims the film contains “objectionable” material that does not conform to the social values and moral standards of Pakistan, adding further that the film’s “theme” and “story” revolve around a relationship between a man and a transwoman, the projection of which could have a “shocking effect” on society.

The petitioner further contends that while the Constitution ensures freedom of speech and expression, this is subject to reasonable restrictions and argued that the film would “encourage” men to pursue relations with transgender individuals. As a result, he has urged the court to ban the screening of the movie and order the government to cancel its exhibition certificate.

Meanwhile, the Peshawar High Court on Monday directed the federal government, PTA, PEMRA, filmmaker Saim Sadiq and the Council of Islamic Ideology to respond by Nov. 23 to a petition seeking a ban on Joyland and the erasure of its trailers from social media.

Filed by a group of lawyers, the petition claims Joyland is “un-Islamic” and “unconstitutional movie,” adding that it aims to “insult their religion, family system, bond and domestic life.” According to the petition, Joyland cannot be regarded as “entertainment” as its screening would negatively impact society. Claiming they had obtained a fatwa against the movie, the lawyers further demanded that in addition to a ban on its exhibition, Joyland should also be scrubbed from social media so Pakistanis could not access its trailers and other promotional material.

Despite all this criticism, Joyland has been screening across Pakistan—in regions where it has been permitted to do so—for nearly a week without having broken up any marriages or destroyed the fabric of Pakistani society. The film has also been picked for Pakistan’s nomination in the International Film category for the Academy Awards, drawing critical acclaim for its sensitive portrayal of an average middle class Pakistani family and the various trials its members experience.

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