‘Joyland’ wins the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival

In Joyland, a new film from Pakistani director Saim Sadiq, the protagonist is a young man who is under pressure from his family to produce a son with his wife. Instead he joins an erotic dance company and a falls for the troupe’s transgender director.

The taboo-breaking film is the first film from Pakistan to be entered into the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, and it’s been awarded the Queer Palm, the award for the best LGBTIQA+ themed work. It also picked up the ‘Un Certain Regard’ award which recognises talented up-and-coming filmmakers.

“It’s a very powerful film, that represents everything that we stand for,” French director and “Queer Palm” jury head Catherine Corsini told journalists.

“‘Joyland’ will echo across the world,” Corsini said. “It has strong characters who are both complex and real. Nothing is distorted. We were blown away by this film.”

The queer award is not an official part of the festival. While many international film festivals have a category that celebrates LGBTIQA+ themed works, Cannes does not have such an award. Filmmakers however have been running an unofficial queer award alongside the festival for over a decade.

“It makes me sad that the festival is still cold-shouldering the Queer Palm,” Corsini said. Last year her film La Fracture was proclaimed the winner, and other big directors including Todd Haynes and Xavier Dolan have been past recipients.

Sadiq’s film got a huge reception at its debut screening, rewarded with a long standing ovation.

Actor Alina Khan, who is transgender, stars in the film. The filmmakers have noted that Pakistan is a country of contradictions, discussion of sexuality and gender is taboo, but the country also has laws that protect transgender people and they officially recognise a third gender.

Sadiq studied filmmaking at New York Columbia University, and previously made an award winning short film with Khan.

OIP Staff


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