Shayda

New York Times Critics' Pick
117 mins.
Directed by Noora Niasari
PG-13
Persian with subtitles, English
2024

Please note that this film contains a sequence of bright strobing light.

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 experiences, 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.

Winner of the Audience Award in World Cinema—Dramatic at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.


“In her first narrative feature, Niasari, who based the story in part on her own experiences, demonstrates an astounding control of pacing and mood. Where other films about abuse insist on stakes through violence, SHAYDA conveys isolation or danger in small visual cues: images in silhouette, wordless long takes, strategically-placed jump cuts.” Natalia Winkelman. A New York Times Critic's Pick!