A few weeks after Zar Amir-Ebrahimi won the Best Actress Award in Cannes for her performance as journalist Arezoo Rahimi in crime thriller Holy Spider, the Iranian-French actor flew to Melbourne, Australia, to take part in what was set to be another urgent story from an Iranian filmmaker: Noora Niasari’s debut feature Shayda.
The film, which is described as a “love letter to mothers and daughters everywhere” and opened Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition last week, sees Amir-Ebrahimi star as Shayda, a brave Iranian mother who finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her six-year-old daughter (played by Selina Zahednia) after fleeing an abusive relationship.
Based on Niasari’s own mother, who fled an arranged marriage to raise her daughter in Australia, Shayda takes place over the Persian New Year, when the mother-daughter duo take solace in Nowruz rituals and new beginnings but when her estranged husband reenters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardized.
For Amir-Ebrahimi and Cate Blanchett, who exec produces the film via her Dirty Films banner, the story is exactly the kind of project that each feels compelled to get involved with. “I’m not that interested in doing a comedy or something that doesn’t really change anything in our society,” confesses Amir-Ebrahimi. “Life is short and if I can shoot two movies per year that make a difference or make a change in this world, then that’s important.” Blanchett, who was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar yesterday for her role in Tár, and Andrew Upton (her husband and Dirty Films co-founder) were brought the project from producer Vincent Sheehan, whom Blanchett had worked with on Little Fish in 2005. “Vincent and Noora had beenRead more on deadline.com