The GuardianThe Guardian

Superheroes, jazz, queer art: How Pakistan’s transgressive pop culture went global

By Fatima Bhutto

19 Dec 2022 · 9 min read

Editor's Note

Pakistan has a rich cultural heritage. In recent years, Pakistani artists have received international acclaim. The Guardian looks at some of the great artistic successes of past years.

In August, Pakistan’s three censor boards cleared Saim Sadiq’s award-winning film Joyland for release. Shot in Lahore, the film is about a young married man from a conservative family who finds work at a dance theatre and falls in love with a trans woman struggling to land her moment on stage. It was the first Pakistani film to screen at Cannes and it won the Un Certain Regard prize, receiving a standing ovation nearly 10 minutes long.

Even though the film was then subject to various bans in Pakistan, after being accused of pushing an LGTBQ+ agenda and misrepresenting Pakistani culture, it finally appeared in Pakistani cinemas in November, with Malala Yousafzai signing on as executive producer.

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