Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment has partnered with Sister, the production company founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone, on the feature film “Raya,” based on the novel by Mahsa Rahmani Noble. Iranian-Australian filmmaker Noora Niasari will adapt and direct.
Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff will produce for Krasnoff/Foster alongside Kate Fenske for Sister, who together are producing “The Jungle Prince of Delhi” for Amazon, with Mira Nair set to direct.
“Raya” is a historical fiction about Princess Soraya Esfandiary Bahktiari, who lived a life seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. The only daughter of a prominent Iranian family, at 16 she is selected from among the most beautiful and eligible women of her country to wed the Shah of Iran. “Years later, a chance encounter with a distant relative leads Soraya back on a journey through the tender and tumultuous times of her life as another young woman struggles to come to terms with love and betrayal,” according to a press statement. “Together, they share their stories of the defeats and victories of love, hoping to make sense of the ever-fragile human heart.”
“Noora’s work is very powerful and cinematically mature. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Noora on ‘Raya.’ She brings cultural insight and dynamic storytelling. Matching her with Mahsa Rahmani Noble’s novel is a perfect connection,” Foster said. “We love working with Sister. It made perfect sense to bring them ‘Raya.’ Stacey Snider and Kate Fenske shared our enthusiasm for the project and are also big believers in Noora.”
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Niasari’s documentary “Casa Antúnez,” a film exploring the meaning of ‘home’ in the aftermath of an earthquake, was nominated for the New Talent Award at the 2017 Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Her narrative short “The Phoenix” (Simorgh), starring Iranian actor Manouchehr Farid, won the VCA New Voice Award, and was selected for the Melbourne Intl. Film Festival’s Accelerator Lab, and nominated for an Australian Directors’ Guild Award.
In 2015, she was mentored by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, who remains an inspiration. In his workshop, she developed the idea for her Screen Australia funded short film “Waterfall,” a cross-cultural, coming-of-age drama that competed at festivals worldwide.
As a screenwriter, Niasari has worked across a multitude of writers rooms for Australian TV; her episodic writing credits include Matchbox Pictures/ABC TV Series “The Heights,” and the upcoming Thumper Pictures’ sci-fi series “Second Time,” to which she is also attached as a director.
In 2020, Niasari completed a mentorship with Luke Davies, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “Lion” as part of the Australians in Film – Mentor LA program. Her short film “Tâm,” a one-shot thriller starring Jillian Nguyen, competed at the 2020 CinefestOZ, MIFF 68½, Flickerfest and St. Kilda festivals.
Niasari is working on her debut feature “Shayda,” which has secured support from Screen Australia and Film Victoria. Vincent Sheehan is producing.
The deals were made by UTA, Erica Silverman of Trident Media Group, Hamish Berry of Bruns Brennan & Berry, PC and John Laviolette.
Niasari is represented by UTA and attorney Anita Surendran.