Gentle and timid, Haider (Ali Junejo) lives with his wife Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq), his father, and his elder brother’s family in Lahore, Pakistan. Following a long spell of unemployment, Haider finally lands a job at a Bollywood-style burlesque, telling his family he is a theater manager when, in actuality, he is a backup dancer. The unusual position shakes up the steadfast traditional dynamics of his household and enables Haider to break out of his shell. As he acclimates to the new job, Haider becomes infatuated with the strong-willed trans woman Biba (Alina Khan) who runs the show—an unforeseen partnership that opens his eyes and ultimately his worldview, in ways both unexpected and intimate.
The first Pakistani film to not only premiere at Cannes but also be awarded the Un Certain Regard jury prize (in addition to winning the Queer Palm), Joyland is a lush and poignant feature debut from writer-director Saim Sadiq that explores the emotional intricacies and complexities of navigating love, desire, identity, and sexual rebellion in a repressive society. Learn more about the film with Ali Raz’s thoughtful essay on Public Books, Slant Magazine‘s effusive review, and a wide-ranging conversation with Sadiq that includes the obstacles he faced making Joyland, his connection with Riz Ahmed, and more. See the film this Friday and Saturday at IU Cinema!
“Brimming with life and novelistic detail … A delicate, intelligent, and emotionally rich film. What a debut from Sadiq.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian