The drama, which counts Cate Blanchett among its executive producers and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics for North America among other markets, world premiered at Sundance in January where it won the World Cinema Audience Award.
It went on to open the Melbourne International Film Festival and was the closing-night screening at Locarno. It is next set for TIFF and will be released in Oz on October 5 via Madman.
The story follows a young Iranian mother and her six-year-old daughter who find refuge in an Australian women’s shelter during the two weeks of Iranian New Year (Nowruz) which is celebrated as a time of renewal and rebirth. Aided by the strong community of women at the shelter, they seek their freedom in this new world of possibilities, only to find themselves facing the violence they tried so hard to escape.
Shayda stars Cannes Best Actress winner Zar Amir Ebrahimi (Holy Spider) alongside Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, Jillian Nguyen, Mojean Aria, Rina Mousavi and Selina Zahednia.
Niasari is a writer-director and co-founder of Parandeh Pictures, whose short films and documentaries have screened at film festivals worldwide. Of the selection for the International Oscar, she said, “I see this film as an open invitation for audiences to recognize and celebrate the courage and resilience of Iranian women, Australian women and all women fighting for freedom and independence from domestic violence. And so, to have Shayda represent Australia on the world stage with this submission gives me an immense sense of hope and pride.”
The film is produced by Vincent Sheehanand Niasari,and exec produced by Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Coco Francini of Dirty Films.
A spokesperson for the Australian selection committee said, “There was no hesitation in putting forward Shayda as this year’s submission, which members of the committee described as beautiful, timely, masterfully directed and a film that stays with you long after the closing credits.”
The partners at Dirty Films commented, “Our hearts immediately connected to the story of Shayda. Its central theme of defining one’s own path is deeply rooted in the Australian psyche, but Noora Niasari has created art for a global audience. This is a powerful and resonant story of family that couldn’t be more timely, and we’re so proud that audiences are responding so enthusiastically as it embarks on an international journey.”
An Origma 45 production produced in association with Dirty Films and Parandeh Pictures, Shayda received major production investment from Screen Australia in association with The 51 Fund and was financed with support from VicScreen and the Melbourne International Film Festival Premiere Fund.
Along with North America, SPC has rights in Latin America, Benelux, Eastern Europe, Portugal, the Middle East and Turkey. HanWay Films is selling with partners to date including Filmcoopi in Switzerland, Metropolitan in France, TFG in Greece, Just Wanted in Italy, Caramel in Spain, Vertigo in the UK, Pictureworks in India and Falcon in Indonesia.