- They are among a diverse lineup of up-and-coming directors with current and near-future projects.
Pakistani filmmaker Saim Sadiq and British Pakistani writer and director Nida Manzoor are among Variety’s directors to watch for 2023. The list features 10 helmers with current and near-future projects set to launch their careers to the next level. The lineup represents a diverse mix of up-and-coming directors whose films — all first or second narrative features — distinguished themselves earlier this year on the festival circuit or else are set to premiere in 2023.
The directors selected for this year’s list will be honored at a brunch event on Jan. 6 at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which resumes in-person screenings, panels and parties in early January, following two editions impacted by the COVID pandemic.
Sadiq’s “Joyland,” Pakistan’s entry for the Oscars’ international feature film category, is described as “a bittersweet tale of repressed desire and the quest for individual freedom.” It follows a patriarchal family as they yearn for the birth of a baby boy to continue the family line, while their youngest son secretly joins an erotic dance theater and falls for a trans woman, according to the film’s synopsis. The film explores a whole family, presenting a picture of a clan torn between modernity and tradition in contemporary Lahore.
The film was first banned by Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting a week before its Nov. 18 theatrical release. The ban was reversed, but edits were required. Salman Sufi, Head of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s Strategic Reforms, told the Associated Press the decision to lift the ban was made by a committee that approved it with minor edits. He also tweeted, “Freedom of speech is a fundamental right & should be nourished within ambits of the law.”
Manzoor’s debut feature “Polite Society,” is an action-comedy starring Priya Kansara, Ritu Arya, Shobu Kapoor, Ella Bruccoleri, Seraphina Beh, Shona Babayemi, Nimra Bucha, Jeff Mirza and Akshay Khanna. It follows “a bolshy school girl and martial artist-in-training who dreams of becoming a world-renowned stunt woman,” according to the film’s synopsis. “When she witnesses her big sister give up on her dreams and drop out of art school to get engaged, her world is shaken, and she believes she must save her sister from the shackles of marriage by pulling off a wedding heist.”The film will be released in the U.S. by Focus Features on April 28, 2023.
Manzoor is well known for the British series “We Are Lady Parts,” for which she won the 2021 Rose d’Or Emerging Talent Award. It follows the members of the UK-based, all-female, Muslim punk band known as Lady Parts. It airs on Channel 4 in the UK and Peacock in the U.S. She has also helmed episodes of British series including “Doctor Who” and “Enterprice.”