Exclusive Interview: Noora Niasari & Zar Amir Ebrahimi on ‘Shayda’

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Shayda made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival just over one year ago and took home the Audience Award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. It was then selected as Australia’s official Oscar entry for the Best International Feature race. This was the second consecutive year star Zar Amir Ebrahimi starred in an international submission following her incredible work in Holy Spider, which represented Denmark on the Oscar shortlist in 2022.

I had the chance to speak with director Noora Niasari and Ebrahimi about the impetus for making the film and the overwhelming reactions they’ve received from people around the world. They also spoke about their collaborative process and the film’s universality.

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You can watch the video above, and read below for an official summary and where to watch.

Film summary:

An Iranian woman living in Australia, Shayda finds refuge in a women’s shelter with her frightened 6-year-old daughter, Mona. Having fled her husband, Hossein, and filed for divorce, Shayda struggles to maintain normalcy for Mona. Buoyed by the approach of Nowruz (Persian New Year), she tries to forge a fresh start with new and unfettered freedoms. But when a judge grants Hossein visitation rights, he re-enters their life, stoking Shayda’s fear that he’ll attempt to take Mona back to Iran.

Drawn from personal experience, Iranian-Australian filmmaker Noora Niasari’s powerful debut feature is a beautifully crafted, poetic vérité portrayal of courage and compassion, anchored by a heart-rending performance by Zar Amir Ebrahimi (2022 Cannes’ best actress award winner for Holy Spider). Ebrahimi captures the vulnerability and conflict, but also the radiant soul of an Iranian woman who boldly reclaims her human rights: to divorce her husband, keep her child, and dress as she chooses.

Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

Shayda opens at The Royal in LA and the Film Forum in NY on Friday, March 1st, followed by a nationwide roll out in theaters.

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