We are delighted to be partnering with Dublin International Film Festival (DIFF) to cover the films featuring in this year’s programme. As part of this year’s Dublin International Film Festival, Silver Screen Critic Norma Farley Bodie shares her thoughts on Shayda.
DIFF 2024 runs 22nd February – 2nd March. Explore the programme and get tickets here.

Based on the memoirs of the Iranian-Australian director’s mother, this 117 minute film tells the story of a young Iranian woman fleeing an abusive husband with her young daughter.  Set in Australia circa 1995, Shayda and her young daughter Mona find themselves in the relative safety of a woman’s shelter. 

Shayda tires to secure a divorce from her estranged husband Hossein and full custody of their daughter, however she is hindered by a court order granting Saturday afternoon visitation rights to Hossein to see his daughter. The very real danger that Hossein will abduct Mona and bring her back to Tehran where Shayda will have no rights strikes a palpable fear and anxiety in not only Shayda but also Mona (and me watching this film). Apprehension and dread accompany Hossein whenever he appears on screen. 

An underlying theme is Shayda’s efforts to balance herself between adopting ‘Western’ ways and at the same time maintaining her Iranian identity by teaching Mona Iranian customs such as the celebration of the Persian New Year. Basically, all Shayda wants for herself and her daughter is a path to “freedom”,  this means freedom from fear, freedom to lead a normal life, and freedom to pursue one’s own dreams. These are freedoms most of us take for granted. 

The casting is great. Zar Amir Ebrahimi plays Shayda in a very authentic way. Yet, Selina Zahednia’s portrayal of young Mona is outstanding in conveying the stress and fear a young child is forced to struggle with.  This engrossing and tension-filled film is a very worthy candidate from Australia for the Best International Feature Academy Award. 

Shayda screens at DIFF on 26th February 2024.



Dublin International Film Festival (DIFF) is Ireland’s premier film event, dedicated to presenting the best in contemporary and classic world cinema. It brings the world to Ireland and showcases Ireland to the world. With a rich history spanning several decades, DIFF showcases a diverse selection of films, hosts industry events, and fosters a vibrant film culture in Dublin.

Over the past 22 years, it has screened more than 1,600 international films from over 52 countries. The Festival has hosted over 600 high profile guests, including Al Pacino, Angela Lansbury, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Danny DeVito, Ennio Morricone, Joss Whedon, Julie Andrews, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stanley Tucci, and Stellan Skarsgård.

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Gemma Creagh is a writer, filmmaker and journalist. In 2014 she graduated with a First from NUIG’s MA Writing programme. Gemma’s play Spoiling Sunset was staged in Galway as part of the Jerome Hynes One Act Play series in 2014. Gemma was one of eight playwrights selected for AboutFACE’s 2021 Transatlantic Tales and is presently developing a play with the Axis Theatre and with the support of the Arts Council. She has been commissioned to submit a play by Voyeur Theatre to potentially be performed in Summer 2023 as part of the local arts festival. Gemma was the writer and co-producer of the five-part comedy Rental Boys for RTÉ’s Storyland. She has gone on to write, direct and produce shorts which screened at festivals around the world. She was commissioned to direct the short film, After You, by Filmbase and TBCT. Gemma has penned articles for magazines, industry websites and national newspapers, she’s the assistant editor for Film Ireland and she contributes reviews to RTE Radio One’s Arena on occasion.

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