Shayda directed by Noora Niasari
Shayda directed by Noora Niasari

The 71st edition of Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) will open with the Australian Premiere of Noora Niasari’s Shayda, winner of the Audience Award earlier this year at Sundance Film Festival. Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story, a rollicking documentary portrait of the late, great Australian music icon will make its World Premiere in a very special Music on Film event.

The two Galas headline the 2023 program with the festival returning to cinemas from August 3-20, regional locations between August 11-13 and August 18-20 and online with MIFF Play from August 18-27.

Announcing the two Gala features, MIFF Artistic Director, Al Cossar, said: “It’s exciting to share two of this year’s utmost Australian cinema highlights, both set to make a major impression at MIFF!

We’re so proud to welcome audiences to our 2023 festival with Noora Niasari’s anticipated Shayda – an affecting, deeply felt and beautifully crafted story of a mother and daughter against the odds, by an Australian filmmaker you need to know.

A few days beyond that, Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story will shake up the stadiums with an epically raconteur-ish charting of Australian rock history, as told by Australian rock royalty, in a compellingly candid remembrance of Melbourne’s iconic music mogul.

Our congratulations to the film teams of Shayda and Ego – and this is just the start for MIFF 2023!”

After winning over audiences and critics alike at Sundance, Shayda officially ushers in MIFF 2023 as the festival’s Opening Night Gala feature on Thursday 3 August. The deeply autobiographical feature from Tehran-born, Australian-raised writer-director Noora Niasari is executive produced by Cate Blanchett’s Dirty Films. Set and shot in Melbourne, Shayda heralds a local filmmaking and storytelling talent on the rise.

Niasari shared her excitement at the film’s Opening Night selection, saying: “It’s emotional for me – I became a filmmaker in Melbourne and MIFF has been a huge part of that journey. Bringing Shayda to Australian audiences at the Opening Night Gala is a dream. This hometown celebration of our film means the world to our cast and crew who worked tirelessly through a Melbourne winter to bring this Iranian-Australian story to life.”

Starring Zar Amir-Ebrahimi (Cannes 2022 Best Actress Award for her work in Holy Spider, MIFF 2022) and Leah Purcell AM (The Drover’s Wife, MIFF 2021), Shayda follows an Iranian woman and her young daughter – played by newcomer Selina Zahednia in a commanding debut turn – as they arrive at a local women’s shelter in suburban Melbourne seeking an escape from their oppressive home life. Based on Niasari’s own upbringing, the filmmaker has described the project as a love letter to mothers and daughters.

The following week will see the extraordinary legacy of Australian music trailblazer Michael Gudinski AM cemented on screen with the World Premiere of Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story, the definitive documentary account of Michael Gudinski’s rock ‘n roll life. This extra special Music on Film Gala will deliver red carpet events across multiple Melbourne venues on Thursday 10 August.

Charting Australia’s musical back catalogue, the film is equal parts a celebration of the larger-than-life Gudinski as industry change-maker, star-making champion and beloved family man and friend. Sharing the behind-the-scenes stories of those Australian and international musicians Michael pioneered at home and on the world stage, the film dives into the unorthodox tactics that helped Gudinski build an empire of artists whose iconic songs have soundtracked a nation.

Featuring interviews with Kylie Minogue, Dave Grohl, Sting, Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Jimmy Barnes, Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story is a uniquely Australian tribute to a much-loved industry legend and the musical history he helped shape.

Director Paul Goldman said of the film’s World Premiere at MIFF: “I and the whole creative team around Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story, are very excited and honored to be premiering the documentary at MIFF this year. Michael Gudinski was an immensely proud and passionate Melbournian. His fierce love affair with all things Melbourne was legendary, one of the deeply important and personal things in his life. Especially putting the Melbourne music scene and Australian artists on the map, both here and overseas.

MIFF has played a significant part in my film-making life. It’s a festival I’ve cherished since I first attended in the early 80s. And I’ve had two films close the festival (Australian Rules, 2002 and Suburban Mayhem, 2006) so bringing this film to my hometown, putting it in front of a Melbourne audience, having our World Premiere at MIFF, is enormously gratifying for all of us involved in making this documentary. Michael would love it. I can hear him getting very loud and excited!”

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