Sundance Audience Winner ‘Shayda’ Acquired by Sony Pictures Classics

Cate Blanchett produced Noora Niasari’s feature directorial debut about an Iranian refugee living in Australia

Sony Pictures Classics has secured distribution rights to “Shayda,” which won the Audience Award at Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition last month.

The distributor holds all media rights in North America, Latin America, Benelux, Eastern Europe, Portugal, the Middle East, and Turkey.

Executive produced by Cate Blanchett’s Dirty Films, the first feature by writer-director Noora Niasari follows Shayda and her six-year-old daughter Mona, two Iranians living in Australia. After divorcing her husband Hossein, Shayda moves them into a women’s shelter, where she struggles to adjust to her new life while trying to create one for Mona. Encouraged by the start of the Persian New Year, Nowruz, to embrace her newfound freedom, Shayda is thrown off when Hossein wins visitation rights, raising the possibility that he’ll attempt to take his daughter back to Iran.

The film stars stars Zar Amir Ebrahimi (“Holy Spider”), Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, Jillian Nguyen, Mojean Aria, Selina Zahednia, and Rina Mousavi.

“I have held the deepest admiration for Sony Pictures Classics since childhood. For my debut feature to be distributed by them is a dream,” said Niasari. “I know they will set the stage for a wonderful release, so that audiences worldwide can experience the emotional depth and power of Shayda.”

“With ‘Shayda,’ Noora Niasari makes an impressive feature debut. Her characters are beautifully relatable and her relationships formed with honesty, humanity, and the warmth that can come from family and community. It is our pleasure to bring this story and Noora to audiences everywhere,” added Sony Pictures Classics.

“Shayda” is an Origma 45 production. It is produced by Vincent Sheehan and Niasari in association with Dirty Films, Parandeh Pictures, and The 51 Fund and executive produced by Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton, Coco Francini, Caitlin Gold, Lindsay Lanzillotta, Lois Scott, Naomi McDougall Jones, and Nivedita Kulkarni. Additional production investments come from Screen Australia in association with The 51 Fund, VicScreen and the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Premiere Fund.

The deal was negotiated with United Talent Agency. HanWay Films will be selling the remaining international territories and screening ‘Shayda’ to buyers in the upcoming EFM. Metropolitan will distribute in France. Madman Entertainment will handle local distribution in Australia and New Zealand.

Niasari is represented at United Talent Agency and Granderson Des Rochers, LLP.

Variety first reported the deal.