Iranian-Australian film Shayda has won Australia’s richest prize for Australian film in this year’s CinefestOZ.

From August 29 to September 3, Australia’s best new films were screened in picturesque venues throughout Western Australia’s southwest, competing for the $100,000 CinefestOZ Film Prize, which celebrates Australian feature films.

Noora Niasari’s film ‘Shayda’ emerged victorious, ahead of Sean McDonald’s ‘Bromley: Light After Dark’, Matt Vesely’s ‘Monolith’, and Mark Leonard Winter’s ‘The Rooster‘.

In her acceptance speech, Niasari said she was grateful to CinefestOZ for shining a light on the story, which was inspired by her own childhood.
“It was such an honour to be nominated alongside three incredible Australian films,” Ms Niasari said.

“Winning this prize means a great deal to me because whilst this is a specific Iranian mother-daughter story, it is also an Australian story. These kinds of stories are rare but they shouldn’t be.”

Shayda traces the journey of a young Iranian mother (Zar Amir Ebrahimi) and her six-year-old daughter (Selina Zahednia) as they seek sanctuary in an Australian women’s shelter during the Iranian New Year (Nowrooz) in 1995.

The jury described Shayda as, “a film that introduces an exceptional new filmmaking voice, revealing with great authenticity and emotional impact a deeply personal story untold previously in our national cinema, driven at its heart by two extraordinary performances depicting the resilience and love between a mother and a daughter.”

“Noora’s story and brave cinematic voice connect and start conversations, and this significant prize provides a space to amplify these conversations within Australia and beyond.”