Shayda chosen as Australia’s Oscar hopeful in 2024

Noora Niasari's award-winning debut will represent Australia in the Best International Feature category at next year's Academy Awards.

The award-winning drama Shayda, from Iranian-Australian debut writer and director Noora Niasari, has been announced as the official Australian submission for Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards.

The film had its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition in January, where it won the World Cinema Audience Award. The film then opened the Melbourne International Film Festival and was the closing-night screening at Locarno Film Festival, screening for 8,000 in the Piazza Grande. It is next set to show at TIFF on 13 September and will be in Australian cinemas from 5 October 2023.

Read: Shayda is a powerful debut from Iranian-Australian writer/director Noora Niasari

The film is produced by Vincent Sheehan and Noora Niasari and is executive-produced by Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Coco Francini of Dirty Films. It stars Cannes Best Actress-winner Zar Amir Ebrahimi (Holy Spider) alongside Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, Jillian Nguyen, Mojean Aria, Rina Mousavi and Selina Zahednia.

The film tells the story of 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.

Niasari said: ‘I see this film as an open invitation for audiences to recognise 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.’

Australia only infrequently sends non-English language films to the Academy Awards, with only one Australian nomination in the Foreign Language category in the past, Bentley Dean and Martin Butler’s Tanna in 2017, and a steady stream of submissions in the category since 2012.

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 a beautiful, timely, masterfully directed and a film that stays with you long after the closing credits.

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites