EXCLUSIVE: Trailblazing Pakistani movie Joyland has been picked up for U.S. distribution by Oscilloscope.

After becoming the first Pakistani movie to debut at Cannes, where it was awarded the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard category, and the Queer Palm, the film made more history by becoming Pakistan’s first film to make the Academy longlist for Best International Feature.

Written and directed by Saim Sadiq, and executive-produced by Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Ramin Bahrani and Jemima Khan, the film charts the story of the youngest son in a traditional Pakistani family who takes a job as a backup dancer in a Bollywood-style burlesque. He quickly becomes infatuated with the strong-willed trans woman who runs the show. Starring are Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq and Alina Khan.

Oscilloscope is planning a traditional theatrical release for the film later this year. WME Independent handled domestic rights and brokered the deal on behalf of the filmmakers. Film Constellation handles international sales.

The movie, which also garnered an Indie Spirit nomination, played at Toronto, Busan, London and AFI, and is set to screen at this month’s Sundance festival.

Pic is produced by Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, Sabiha Sumar, Lauren Mann, Kathryn M. Moseley, Oliver Ridge, April Shih, and Katharina Otto-Bernstein. Execs also include William Olsson, Jen Goyne Blake, Tiffany Boyle, Elsa Ramo, Oleg Dubson, Kathrin Lohmann, Hari Charana Prasad, Sukanya Puvvula, and Owais Ahmed.

Filmmaker Sadiq said: “I am incredibly excited about welcoming Oscilloscope to our ever growing Joyland family and genuinely humbled by the fact that this dream that I nurtured for years is finally going to reach the audience in the U.S. My team and I have been so overwhelmed with the unending outpour of love from theatrical audiences in France and Pakistan and festival audiences worldwide that have discovered the film. So I’m very hopeful that Haider, Biba, and Mumtaz will find many friends in the States as well.”

O-Scope’s Dan Berger added: “Joyland is a daring and affecting work. In spite of all obstacles, Saim and team have created a powerful piece of art that will resonate far into the future. It is inclusive and it messages necessary things, but it is not tidy, not easy, and not obvious. It is cinema at its finest, working on numerous levels to leave people shaken and moved by the time the end credits roll.”


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