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‘Joyland’ – “Birth of a great new auteur on the global stage” director Ramin Bahrani on historic Cannes Pakistani film selection

‘Joyland’ – “Birth of a great new auteur on the global stage” director Ramin Bahrani on historic Cannes Pakistani film selection

First time feature director will compete for Camera d’Or – open only to debut filmmakers…

IN WHAT is a historic first – a Pakistani film has been officially selected to have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

‘Joyland’ is set to screen in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival (May 17-28), often regarded as that part of the festival that recognises up coming and new global talent. ‘Joyland’ is writer-director Saim Sadiq’s first feature film.

Hollywood director Ramin Bahrani, who is an executive producer on ‘Joyland’ heralded its Cannes Selection: “As the birth of a great new auteur on the global stage”.

‘Joyland’ has US and Pakistani backing and Bahrani is best known as the director of the Indian Netflix film, ‘The White Tiger’, and ‘99 Homes’ with Andrew Garfield.

‘Joyland’ might be described as a family drama – though one perhaps in keeping very much with contemporary issues.

It is described thus: “As the Ranas – a happily patriarchal joint family – yearn for the birth of a baby boy to continue the family line, their youngest son, secretly joins an erotic dance theatre and falls for an ambitious trans starlet.

“Their impossible love story slowly illuminates the entire Rana’s family’s desire for a sexual rebellion.”

Sadiq reflected: “The making of this film has been a dream come true for me and my team and I am grateful to be able to share this moment with them – and to be showcased at the World’s most prestigious Film Festival.

“My amazing cast has given the characters of ‘Joyland’ a kind of empathy and humanity that a filmmaker can only hope for and I am thrilled for the world to experience their magic.”

The film stars Ali Junejo, Alina Khan, Rasti Farooq, Sarwat Gilani, Sohail Sameer, Salman Peerzada, and Sania Saeed and features cinematography by Joe Saade (‘Costa Brava Lebanon’).

Sadiq himself made a splash in Venice in 2019 with his short film, ‘Darling’ which won an award in the Horizons section. This film has some similar themes and characters to ‘Joyland’.

Sadiq is an alumni of Columbia University, has a background in anthropology and started out making TV documentary films.

It was announced yesterday (April 21) that a deal has been inked with European production and sales company, Film Constellation, for international sales, while WME Independent will represent North American rights.

The film is produced by Hollywood based Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat (‘Circus of Life’) & Lauren Mann (‘Swiss Army Man’).

Charan commented: “We are extremely excited and humbled for the film’s selection at the 75th Cannes Film Festival.

“We have a very passionate team that has poured their heart and soul into the making of this film.

“We are grateful to WME, Film Constellation, our producing partners, and the Cannes committee for this incredible opportunity to share our film with the world.”

Bahrani said: “It’s been such a pleasure working with Saim on ‘Joyland’, which signals the birth of a great new auteur on the global stage.”

Other executive producers are William Olsson, Jen Goyne Blake, Tiffany Boyle, Elsa Ramo, Hari Charana Prasad, Sukanya Puvvula, Oleg Dubson, Kathrin Lohmann, and Owais Ahmed.

Fabien Westerhoff, CEO of Film Constellation, said: “Saim has weaved a tender and sensual modern day family tale, wrestling with the weight of manufactured gender roles. It radiates the shared desire to live and love without compromise. We can’t wait for our buyers to discover it.”

There has been a considerable reaction to the in the Pakistani creative industries – with many stars and well-known figures taking to social media to express their pride and delight.

Among those offering congratulations to Sadiq were actor Mahira Khan, no stranger to the Cannes Croisette herself, having made her debut as an L’Oreal ambassador in 2018 (See our interview here).

Also, among those offering their congratulations was twice Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. (Acv spoke to her in 2016 in London).

It was announced today that Indian filmmaker Pratham Khurana from Whistling Woods has been selected along 15 other student filmmakers for the La Cinef selection, open to those who are studying at films schools. Khurana’s 26-minute ‘Nauha’ will screen in Cannes. London Film School student Masha Novikova is another student filmmaker included in this section for the 20-minute ‘Glorious Revolution

This year’s festival is the 75th edition and it returns to its more traditional May slot – from May 17-28 – though this is slightly later than normal because of the French Presidential elections which are taking place this weekend. Last year the festival was in July because of the pandemic and was cancelled outright in 2020.

Yesterday (April 22), the festival also officially announced its latest selections in addition to those disclosed on Thursday last week (April 14). There are 14 new selections and several are French.

Among the big films announced last week and heading to the Croisette this year are Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis; ‘Top Gun – Maverick’ featuring Tom Cruise, who will be the subject of a special Q&A and career retrospective; ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’ by George Miller whose ‘Mad Max; Fury Road’ made such a splash in Cannes and has something of an Islamic angle with a theme around a Djinn, and is described as a romantic fantasy epic starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. Cannes regular David Cronenberg returns with ‘Crimes of the Future’, while Korean iconic director, Hirokazu Kore-eda , another Cannes fave, is back with ‘Broker’. French Claire Denis has ‘The Stars at Noon’; Ethan Cohen, ‘Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind’ and Michel Hazanavicius will be looking to follow on the success he enjoyed with ‘The Artist’ with his new, ‘Z‘.

Announcement about the make-up of the Competition Jury will be announced shortly.

More Festival de Cannes 75 –

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture