By José Alberto Hermosillo
“Joyland” moves consciences on so many levels as a painful coming-of-age story and a mirror of society that denies the fundamental rights of inclusion, freedom of speech, and equal opportunities for all, including those who may think outside the box. In life, we tend to generalize and level anyone, when instead, we must analyze and assess every subject individually as an essential part of the community.
Biba tells Haider an innocent but meaningful joke – “The chicken and the mosquito shared a kiss. Then, the mosquito died of bird flu... the chicken died of dengue.” Then, she explains herself: “Because falling in love means death.” The joke is related to those two main and opposite characters, the religious married man and the openly gay transgender person seeking freedom in a conservative society with orthodox laws.
For Haider, his family is as important as the show’s success. He takes Biba’s safety personally and his family’s well-being equally, but in real-time, it is not easy to balance everything out.
Mumtaz is emotionally unstable. She wants to be pregnant but questions her husband’s job due to his notorious absences.
|Saim Sadiq, "Joyland." Photo by José Alberto Hermosillo. Copyright © FestivalinLA
First-time writer-director Saim Sadiq said that “Joyland” is a very personal work because he comes from a diverse, middle-class family who is also looking to climb up the social ladder, as the characters in his movie. But he also had to acknowledge that people in Pakistan live in a patriarchal society that sets boundaries for progress, love, and desires.
Director Saim Sadiq wrote an honest and objective script, keeping the “trans” theme and social conflict consistent, creating a solid dramatic arch and an open ending.
Politically speaking, Saim knows all about the power of the extreme right-wing in his country and how his work will upset many. Saim said that after showing his controversial film in Pakistan, he was not expecting everybody to come out of the movie theater and hug him. But his film allows people to enjoy, assimilate, and keep thinking about.
The unexpected twists and turns of “Joyland” take us to places we have not been before. The movie’s rich urban scenarios, colors, and textures, combined with powerful storytelling, enhance the cinematic experience and immerse the viewer deeply in the story.
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