(director/writer: Noora Niasari; cinematographer: Sherwin Akbarzadeh; editor: Elika Rezaee; cast: Zar Amir Ebrahimi (Shayda), Mojean Aria (Farhad), Leah Purcell (Joyce), Eve Morey (Lara), Jillian Nguyan (Vi), Osamah Sami  (Hossein), Selina Zahedenia (Mona), Rina Mousavi (Elly), Bev Killick (Cathy), Lucinda Armstrong Hall (Renee); Runtime: 117; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Vincent Sheehan; Sony Pictures Classics/YouTube; 2023-Australia-in Persian with English subtitles)

“Authentic and heartfelt.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz


Australia’s official submission as ‘best international Picture’ to this year’s Oscars.

It’s the debut feature of Iranian filmmaker Noora Niasari, in her authentic and heartfelt film that’s drawn from her own experience as a child.

In 1995, Shayda (Amir Ebrahimi) flees Iran with her abusive husband Hossein (Osamah Sami) and their six-year-old daughter Mona (Selina Zahedenia), so he can attend medical school. But leaves him with her daughter to find safety in a women’s shelter in Australia during Iran’s two week New Year period, after filing for a divorce. Her fear is that her husband will take Mona back to Iran when he returns there after his studies.

The shelter is run by the kindly head, Joyce (Leah Purcell).

Meanwhile Hossein has been restricted from contacting his daughter by phone, but without warning is granted weekly visitations before the custody hearing.

The kid doesn’t want to be with him, while mom, in one of the film’s most powerful moments, recounts in detail how she told the police and her lawyer how she was abused.

When mother and daughter are together, the joy and love they have for each other gives this grim film an uplift.

Amir Ebrahimi is a fine actress, and her sensitive performance as the brave survivor of domestic violence is outstanding.

It played at the Sundance Film Festival.

REVIEWED ON 12/19/2023  GRADE: B+