Pakistan's government has put a ban on the nationwide release of "Joyland," the first movie from Pakistan to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

The development comes just a week before the film was set to hit theatres. "Joyland," directed by Saim Sadiq, is an official entry for the 2023 Oscar Awards.

It is a story about a man who falls in love with a transgender woman. So far, "Joyland" has managed to get top global awards, including the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, per a report in The Independent.

Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) had cleared the movie in August, but on Friday, the country's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a notice stating that it will not be allowed to be released.

"Written complaints were received that the film contains highly objectionable material which do not conform with the social values and moral standards of our society and is clearly repugnant to the norms of 'decency and morality' as laid down in Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979," read a statement by the ministry.

The ban on the film's release is being criticised on social media. Several people, including activists and actors, have spoken out against the move.

"Shameful that a Pakistani film made by 200 Pakistanis over six years that got standing ovations from Toronto to Cairo to Cannes is being hindered in its own country," actor Sarwat Gilani wrote.

Saim Sadiq, the movie's director, said that the move is "absolutely unconstitutional and illegal," and has urged the ministry to review its decision. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also condemned the move, stating that the withdrawal of certification for "Joyland" was "rabidly transphobic."

"Pakistan's audiences have the right to decide what they will watch," the statement said.

Following the outcry on social media, Pakistan's government has decided to review the ban. On Tuesday, a close aide to Pakistan's Prime Minister said that a "high-level committee" will review the ban on "Joyland's" release.

"The committee will assess the complaints as well as merits to decide on its release in Pakistan," said adviser Salman Sufi.

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