Viewer Advice: Contains stroboscopic imagery; strong impact domestic violence themes; discussion of sexual violence.
Cannes Best Actress winner Zar Amir-Ebrahimi (Holy Spider, MIFF 2022) anchors this Sundance Audience Award–winning portrait of a mother seeking a new life for herself and her daughter.
Shayda, a brave Iranian mother, finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her six-year-old daughter. Over Persian New Year, they take solace in Nowruz rituals and new beginnings, but when her estranged husband re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardised.
Supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund, the accomplished feature debut from MIFF Accelerator Lab alumna Noora Niasari (Tâm, MIFF 2020; Waterfall, MIFF 2017) was produced by Vincent Sheehan and Niasari, and executive-produced by Cate Blanchett. While forthright about the challenges of healing for those who have survived domestic violence, the film also shines a light on the indomitable hope that propels its spirited, beautifully complex characters. With affecting lead performances from Amir-Ebrahimi and newcomer Selina Zahednia – alongside Leah Purcell (The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson, MIFF 2021), Jillian Nguyen (Hungry Ghosts), Osamah Sami (Ali’s Wedding, MIFF 2017), Mojean Aria (KAPO; Reminiscence) and Rina Mousavi (Itch) – Shayda is a moving story of resilience, the desire for independence, and the sacrifices and strength of a mother’s love.
“Powerful … The greatest asset of Shayda is its unmistakably feminine spirit of perseverance, one that runs wild and free in this promising debut.” – Variety
Director Noora Niasari will be in attendance for the screenings on Tuesday 15 August and Friday 18 August (Castlemaine), while actors Osamah Sami and Eve Morey will attend the screening on Saturday 5 August.