Joyland is not the first Pakistani film to premiere at Cannes
The Blood of Hussain premiered at Cannes Directorial’s Fortnight in 1980.
Claim: ‘Joyland’ is the first Pakistani film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
Fact: While ‘Joyland’ is the first Pakistani film to be entered into the official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, the first Pakistani film to debut at the Cannes Film Festival was in fact Jamil Dehlavi’s ‘The Blood of Hussain’, which was showcased in 1980 in the Cannes Directors Fortnight, a parallel selection of the Cannes Film Festival.
Fact or Fiction?
The Cannes Film Festival — officially known as the Festival de Cannes — is an annual international film festival. In May every year, the French city of Cannes becomes the epicentre of cinema and culture, as selected films are put up for competition in various categories. This year, 2022, marks the 75th anniversary of the festival.
The Cannes Film Festival this year was also particularly special for Pakistan, as it heralded the premier of ‘Joyland’, Saim Sadiq’s directorial feature film. ‘Joyland’ tells the story of a young Pakistani man from a patriarchal family who becomes a background dancer for a transgender dancer, Biba, played by Alina Khan, and the two fall in love. Joyland premiered at the Festival on 23 May 2022, successfully touching cinephiles in the audience and receiving a standing ovation.
On 28 May 2022, it was announced that Joyland had won the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard category at the Festival, which spotlights new directors and films revolving around the marginalised.
On 19 May, as this year’s Cannes Film Festival opened, posts began to circulate on social media claiming that Joyland was the first Pakistani entry at the Festival.
‘Joyland’ being selected for the Festival and going on to win a prize is without doubt a watershed moment in the history of Pakistani cinema. However, Soch Fact Check found the claim that ‘Joyland’ was the first Pakistani entry at the Cannes Film Festival to be misleading.
Soch Fact Check identified a news article from 1981, according to which ‘The Blood of Hussain’ by Jamil Dehalvi was selected and premiered in 1980 in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight selection, a non competitive parallel selection of the Cannes International Festival that showcases films beyond the limitations of genre, format, duration and geographical origin.
‘The Blood of Hussain’ is a tale about two brothers, Hussain and Selim, and the diverging paths they take in the midst of a military coup. The film was deemed a threat and its circulation was banned under the 1977-1988 rule of General Zia Ul Haq.
According to a CrowdTangle analysis conducted by Soch Fact Check, the search term “Joyland First Pakistani Film premiere at Cannes” turned up 26 posts on Facebook which received 9,3350 interactions over the last 15 days leading up to 29 May 2022.
The interactions peaked between 22 May and 28 May , coinciding with the dates of the festival.
Conclusion: ‘Joyland’ is the first Pakistani film to be entered into the official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, and the first to win a prize at the Festival. However, the first Pakistani film to debut at the Cannes Film Festival across categories was in fact Jamil Dehlavi’s ‘The Blood of Hussain’, which was showcased in 1980 in the Directors’ Fortnight , a parallel selection of the Cannes Film Festival.