Writer-director Saim Sadiq’s Pakistani feature Joyland has received worldwide acclaim, and starting Friday it starts its North American run at New York’s Film Forum. This is one of my favorite features of the year, and it was a pleasure to interview Sadiq and actors Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, and Alina Khan.
Joyland centers on Haider (Ali Junejo), a timid husband who tends to his family members at his elder brother’s domicile in Lahore, Pakistan. His wife Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq) is a make-up artist who is passionate about her job. In a patriarchal society, being a house husband is frowned upon, and Haider lands a new job as a backup dancer in a Bollywood style theatrical production.
There he meets trans woman Biba (a scene stealing Alina Khan) the strong willed leader of the production. Haider is enamored with Biba, and their partnership brings a new dimension to his life. Mumtaz feels suffocated by this turn of events, since her career may simply be over.
Filmmaker Saim Sadiq crafts an immersive and uncompromising tale with Joyland. Visually striking, Joyland is imbued with lived in performances by the ensemble. It was awarded the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes and named Best International Film at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. It was Pakistan’s official entry for the 95th Academy Awards.
Joyland features Junejo, Farooq and Khan in their feature film debut. They are all terrific. “When something (like Joyland) comes along, you want to give it everything,” said Junejo. “This film asked for my soul, so I gave it.”
Audio version of the Joyland interview is on Find Your Film:
For Farooq, taking on a layered character like Mumtaz was a gratifying challenge. “It was an exciting space to be in, because you know you could do something that you felt a little vulnerable about, a little scared about,” said Farooq. “But then the scene would come together into something really beautiful and exciting.”
I asked Sadiq if there are Pakistani features on the same level as Joyland:
Joyland hits New York’s Film Forum on April 7 and rolls out to other cities the rest of the month and in May. Check out Oscilloscope for theater details!
Full Joyland interview is below:
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