‘Dream come true’ for Pakistan’s first Cannes screening says star of ‘Joyland’

The debut screening of Pakistan’s first entry to the Cannes Film Festival felt like ‘a dream has come true’, one of its stars Sarwat Gilani said after the film – which seeks to break gender stereotypes in her country.

“It felt like the hard work that people do, the struggles that we face as artists in Pakistan, they’ve all come to be worth it,” Gilani said.

Gilani, a film and TV star best known for her latest series ‘Churails’, plays Nucchi in ‘Joyland’, which competes in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section, a competition focused on more art-house films that runs parallel to the main ‘Palme d’Or’ prize.

Joyland which seeks to break gender stereotypes in Pakistan received a prolonged standing ovation

Joyland is a family saga, where Nucchi (Sarwat Gilani) belongs to a household that has long hoped for the birth of a son to continue the family line, with the consecutive birth of her three daughters not enough to please her conservative father-in-law.

Joyland’ Director Saim Sadiq, cast members Alina Khan, Ali Junejo, Sarwat Gilani, Sania Saeed, Rasti Farooq and producers Apoorva Guru Charan and Sana Jafri at the 75th Cannes Film Festival

And her brother-in-law Haider (Ali Junejo) secretly falls in love with a transgender woman Biba, who fights for her right to work as a performer.

‘Joyland’ also explores the frustration of women seeking to pursue a profession, when Haider’s wife Mumtaz falls into a depression for being forced to stay at home and do household chores and stop working as a make-up artist.

“It’s not just about a love story anymore. It’s about real-time issues, real life issues that we all go through,” Gilani said.

“Having a woman, a trans, represent that sector of the society, I think it’s a really good step in the direction where we can say we can write progressive stories.”

Gilani said she hoped Pakistani movie-goers and critics would give “Joyland” as warm a reception as it received in Cannes.

“I’m very positive that at least our people will understand that this is also a kind of cinema that can be successful. If worldwide, then why not locally, nationally,” she said.