February 2, 2023

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Joyland, Pakistan’s Oscar entry, thrives in France, sells overseas

3 min read

Saim Sadiq’s “Joyland,” a tale of sexual revolution that marked the first Pakistani film to be selected at Cannes and shortlisted for the Oscars, is set to tour the world after its US premiere at Sundance.

The film is currently playing in theaters in France, where it is being directed by Condor, and has already grossed over $1 million, a record-breaking BO score for a Pakistani film.

Internationally championed by London and Paris-based finance, production and sales company Film Constellation, “Joyland” will next be released theatrically in the UK/IRE (Studio Soho), ANZ (Madman), Spain (Certce/Filmin), India. (PVR), BeNeLux (September), Scandinavia (Njuta), Germany and Austria (Filmperlen/Filmladen), Switzerland (Trigon), Greece (Cinobo), Portugal (Nos Audiovisuais), Former Yugoslavia (MCF), Turkey (Mars), Indonesia (Falcon), South Korea (Choix) and Taiwan (Filmware). The film has been acquired by HBO in Eastern Europe, with several territories currently under negotiation, including Latin America, Israel and Italy. Oscilloscope is planning a traditional theatrical release for the film in the US later this year It is running in the Spotlight section at Sundance.

The performance of “Joyland” in France is encouraging considering how volatile the theater market is right now

“To see our labor of love receive huge industry support and critical acclaim, and then translate it to a global audience across theaters around the world – it’s been an incredible journey that I couldn’t have imagined,” said Sadiq. “It’s really important to have our film close to the $1 million mark in France!” The director continued.

Following its 2019 Venice and SXSW winner “Darling,” “Joyland” tells the story of a man raised in a conservative patriarchal family who falls in love with a sexually suggestive dancer he meets at an erotic dance theater. Described as both a “boundary-breaker” and a “crowdpleaser” by Variety’s Guy Lodge, the movie is backed by high-profile figures including actor Riz Ahmed and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai who joined as executive producers, Edgar Wright, Sean Filmmakers and stars like Baker, Gael Garcia Bernal and Priyanka Chopra praised the movie on social media.

Fabian Westerhoff, founder and president of Film Constellation, agreed. “In a fragmented and highly competitive indie film market, ‘Joyland’ has proven to be an audience pleaser and has turned its critical and awards haul into bums in the seats in a significant way,” added Westerhoff.

Westerhoff said the team is “grateful to all our distributors and the ambition behind their upcoming releases.”

Although it represented Pakistan in the Oscar race, the movie was initially banned from theaters by the local government ahead of its scheduled November 18 roll-out in the country. Amid some backlash criticizing the ban, the Censor Board’s decision was eventually reversed, allowing the movie to be released.

Since winning the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the Queer Palm at Cannes, the movie has played at most major festivals, including Toronto and the BFI LFF where it won a Special Mention. The film was also nominated for Best International Film at the Independent Spirit Awards and was recently shortlisted in the Best International Feature Film category at the Oscars.

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