Australia has chosen Shayda, a poignant drama directed by Noora Niasari, an Iranian-Australian debut writer, as its submission for the Best International Feature Film Oscar race. With executive producer Cate Blanchett on board and a distribution deal with Sony Pictures Classics, Shayda has garnered attention and acclaim since its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Audience Award.
Shayda tells the story of a young Iranian mother and her six-year-old daughter who seek refuge in an Australian women’s shelter during the Iranian New Year, known as Nowruz, a time symbolizing renewal and rebirth. Supported and embraced by a community of strong women at the shelter, they embark on a journey to find freedom and new possibilities in their new environment. However, their quest for independence soon collides with the lingering specter of violence they had hoped to leave behind.
Shayda boasts an impressive cast that includes Zar Amir Ebrahimi, winner of the Cannes Best Actress award for “Holy Spider,” as the lead, alongside Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, and many other talented actors. The film is a testament to the collaborative efforts of Vincent Sheehan and Noora Niasari as producers, with Blanchett, Andrew Upton, and Coco Francini of Dirty Films serving as executive producers.
Noora Niasari, reflecting on the film’s selection for the International Oscar, describes Shayda as an invitation to audiences worldwide to recognize and celebrate the courage and resilience of Iranian women, Australian women, and all those fighting for freedom from domestic violence. The film’s submission as Australia’s representative on the global stage fills Niasari with hope and pride, embodying the spirit of the film itself.
The Australian selection committee left no room for doubt in their choice of Shayda as this year’s submission. They praised its beauty, timeliness, masterful direction, and its ability to leave a lasting impact on viewers. The committee recognized the film as a powerful portrayal of an individual’s journey to define their own path, deeply rooted in the Australian psyche, yet relevant to audiences worldwide.
Dirty Films, one of the production partners alongside Origma 45 and Parandeh Pictures, expressed their immediate connection to Shayda’s story. They emphasized its resonance in exploring themes of family and individuality, which strike a chord in the Australian culture. The team at Dirty Films takes immense pride in the film’s overwhelmingly positive response as it embarks on an international journey, resonating with audiences from different walks of life.
Shayda was made possible through significant production investment from Screen Australia, in association with The 51 Fund, and additional financial support from VicScreen and the Melbourne International Film Festival Premiere Fund. With distribution rights secured in North America by Sony Pictures Classics, HanWay Films has taken charge of international sales, partnering with various distributors across the globe.
Shayda stands as a testament to the power of storytelling and the strength of individuals in the face of adversity. Noora Niasari’s directorial debut serves as a platform to celebrate the courage and resilience of women while shedding light on the painstaking journey towards freedom. With a captivating narrative, an outstanding cast, and a committed team behind it, Shayda promises to captivate audiences worldwide and leave a lasting impression.