Joyland – Director Saim Sadiq

Director Saim Sadiq’s stunning debut feature explores the many sides of love and desire in a patriarchal society. It follows the gentle and timid Haider (Ali Junejo) who lives with his wife Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq), his father, and his elder brother’s family in Lahore, Pakistan. Following a long period of unemployment, Haider finally lands a job at a Bollywood-style burlesque, telling his family that he is a theater manager, when he is in fact a backup dancer for a captivating and strong-willed trans woman, Biba (Alina Khan), whom he soon becomes infatuated with. As the steadfast traditional dynamics of his household are shaken up, Haider begins to break out of his shell, while his connection with Biba opens his eyes and ultimately his worldview.  Director, co-writer (Maggie Briggs) and co-editor (Jasmin Tenucci) Saim Sadiq joins us for a conversation on his decision to work with professional and non-professional actors, creating the space in the telling of this family’s story where complex subjects involving forbidden love, desire, societal expectations, and patriarchy are handled with loving respect and tenderness.


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Opening at the NuArt on Friday, April 21

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About the filmmaker – Saim Sadiq is a Pakistani filmmaker whose film JOYLAND is the first Pakistani feature to premiere at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Un Certain Regard. His short film DARLING was the first Pakistani film to premiere at the 76th Venice Film Festival, where it won the Orrizonti Prize for Best Short Film. DARLING was also an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival 2019, won a Special Jury Mention award at South by Southwest 2020, and was acquired for distribution by Focus Features. His previous short film NICE TALKING TO YOU was an official selection at South by Southwest 2019, Palm Springs International Shortsfest 2019, made the BAFTA Shortlist for Best Student Film, and won Vimeo’s Best Director award at Columbia University Film Festival 2018. It also won the Kodak Student Scholarship Gold Award. Sadiq recently wrote the original pilot “It Never Rains in Cairo” for MakeReady with Brad Weston and Scott Silver executive producing. Currently, he is writing the film adaptation of New York Times bestseller Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet; Oscar®-nominated Bing Liu is attached to direct. Sadiq received his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the Lahore University of Management Sciences and his MFA in film directing from Columbia University. 



97%  on RottenTomatoes

“Sadiq is not lecturing us or trading in types; he is taking us by sensory surprise, and the tale that he tells is funny, forward, and sometimes woundingly sad.” – Anthony Lane, New Yorker

“The picture transcends the tragic romance narrative, to achieve something rather more complex and satisfying.” – Wendy Ide, Observer (UK)

“The 31-year-old Sadiq (who also wrote and edited the film) knows how to weigh every shot, every cut.” – Ryan Gilbey, New Statesman

“A storming debut from writer-director Saim Sadiq: emotional, tender, and quietly radical. With any luck, it will herald a new era for Pakistani cinema.” – John Nugent, Empire Magazine

“Joyland is such a delicate, intelligent and emotionally rich film. What a debut from Sadiq.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

“The frame moves slowly, if at all, but it always brims with physical and emotional energy; there’s always something in the ether, whether embodied by dazzling displays of light as characters move across stages and club floors or by breathtaking silences” – Siddhant Adlakha, indieWire