The trailer for groundbreaking trans love story Joyland shows exactly why it’s in the Oscars race

Ali Junejo (L) and Alina Khan (R) in new Joyland trailer released in the UK.

The first Pakistani film to be shortlisted for the Oscars, critically acclaimed queer drama Joyland follows the youngest son in a patriarchal family who embarks upon a taboo romance.

Written and directed by Saim Sadiq, the LGBTQ+ drama tells a tale of three people in Lahore whose lives become intertwined by love, desire and destiny.

When conflicted husband Haider (Ali Junejo), lands a job as a background dancer at a Bollywood-style burlesque, he falls for the troupe’s director, a trans woman named Biba (Alina Khan).

Soon enough, Haider gets tangled up in an affair much bigger than himself, drawing his disillusioned wife Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq) into a difficult predicament.

The film, which was recently shortlisted for best international feature film at the forthcoming 95th Academy Awards, first made headlines when it won the Un Certain Regard jury prize and the Queer Palm at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.

The Joyland trailer perfectly captures why the film is heavily tipped for Oscar success as it shows the beautiful humanity of the Pakistani trans community.

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While it doesn’t shy away from hard-hitting themes, it dedicates equal focus to celebrating Lahore and its diverse queer culture.

Following the release of the new trailer, Oscar and Emmy winner Riz Ahmed announced that he had boarded the project as executive producer.

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“More important than any of the glass ceilings it smashes, is how this film so masterfully breaks our hearts. Saim Sadiq’s filmmaking is both understated and gut-wrenching,” he wrote on Instagram. “Joyland is one of the best films of the year.”

Joyland has broken as many taboos as records

In the run-up to the release of Joyland in Pakistani cinemas, the film was met with huge backlash, leading to the Pakistan government introducing a ban in many areas of the country, including Lahore.

The ban, which cited several complaints about “highly objectionable material” which went against “decency and morality”, has since been reduced to a ban across the Punjab.

The subject matter has never been more important, as Pakistan celebrates their first transgender rights march and campaign for change.

Ahmed also addressed the controversy on Instagram, writing: “You know it’s an important movie when the film gets banned and when Malala is one of your producers.”

Fellow Pakistani trailblazer and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai recently joined as executive producer during the London Film Festival.

Following Joyland‘s ban in Pakistan last year, Yousafzai wrote an impassioned defence of the film for Variety.

“It’s a film about the ways in which patriarchy hurts everyone — men, women and children,” she wrote.

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“It’s a film about the healing powers of female friendship and solidarity. It’s a film about the costs of ignoring our own dreams to conform to society around us.”

And in a recent interview with The Guardian, Khan shared the impact of its universal success: “Tears were trickling down my face while I continued smiling.

“I don’t know whether the tears were of joy, were for all the hard work that I put in, or for my struggles since I was a child and that continue.

“For the first time in my life, I felt my talent preceded my gender, I was given so much respect.”

Joyland will be released in UK cinemas on 24 February 2023.

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