Debut film to screen

    Noora and her partner Kieran, who travel extensively for their work, love coming home to Chewton to unwind and re-group.

    The debut film of Tehran-born, Australia-raised writer and director and Chewton resident, Noora Niasari, will be screening at Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal this Friday as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival Regional Showcase.

    Shayda is a beautifully crafted portrait of a mother seeking a new life for herself and her daughter and is based on Noora’s own experience of living in a women’s shelter as a child.

    The Sundance Audience Award-winning film is the story of Shayda, a brave Iranian mother, who finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her six-year-old daughter.

    During Persian New Year, the pair take solace in Nowruz rituals and new beginnings, but when her estranged husband re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardised.

    The film was selected for Locarno, as the opening night gala film at MIFF, and purchased by Sony Pictures Classics.

    Featuring an incredible cast including Cannes Best Actress winner Zar Amir-Ebrahimi and Leah Purcell (The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson, MIFF 2021).

    Shayda is directed by Noora and Vincent Sheehan, executive-produced by Cate Blanchett and edited at Parandeh Pictures co-owned by Noora and her partner Kieran Watson-Bonnice.

    Keiran first met Noora at MIFF in 2015 when they both became involved in a program designed to help short filmmakers work on their first feature films. The pair have since opened their own production company, running out of an office based at The Mill in Castlemaine.

    “It’s very exciting to share the film with our hometown as several locals were involved in the production,” Kieran said.

    “I really respect Noora’s work and creativity. She allows people’s ideas and talents to support her vision.

    “As a director, you have a certain path you want a project to go and it’s an exercise in letting go and maintaining control.

    “If you can do that, the film is elevated by the talent around you. If you held on too tightly you’d miss out.”

    Shayda is screening at the Theatre Royal on Friday, August 18 at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased at

    Noora will also be appearing at the Theatre Royal this Sunday, August 20, as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival Talks for a round table with two other talented filmmakers.

    For more information or to purchase tickets visit