With the participation of Bahman Ghobadi (A Time For Drunken Horses), the first collaboration between Australia and Iran My Tehran For Sale will make its world premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival (AFF) in February.
The film is also the first feature produced by Julie Ryan since collaborating with director Rolf de Heer on five films including Ten Canoes.
Debuting writer/director Granaz Moussavi, 34, shot the film entirely on location in Tehran in August and September this year. She is currently in post-production in South Australia.
Moussavi sees it as the true story of her generation: it tells of a Tehran theatre actor's struggle to express herself creatively in spite of government restrictions, and her quest to relocate to Australia.
About ten percent of the film is set in Australia.
'Almost everyone I know, especially at certain times, does whatever they can to leave Iran,' Moussavi told Screendaily.com.
About three million Iranians live abroad, many unwillingly, she added. 'It is a problem that all these people who love their country, seriously explore prospects elsewhere. This is a key component of the film.'
The budget of less than $1m came from the South Australian Film Corporation and the Adelaide Film Festival, with Ghobadi supplying on-the-ground assistance.
Moussavi says it shows young people seeing, reading and living exactly as their Western counterparts do, but under cover.
While she does not expect the film to be granted permission to be shown in cinemas in Iran, she hopes this may change in the coming years.
The film is in Farsi and no sales agent or distributor is attached yet.
Moussavi herself moved from Iran to Australia with her parents 12 years ago and has lived between both countries since.
She worked with Ghobadi on Turtles Can Fly and developed her debut with input from him and revered Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (A Taste of Cherry).
Moussavi was inspired by the way Kiarostami - and Wong Kar Wai - convey narrative, as well as by Marzieh Vafamehr, an Iranian documentary filmmaker and the actress who plays the lead role.
AFF artistic director Katrina Sedgwick recommended that she work with producers Ryan and Kate Croser of local production house Cyan Films.
Their partnership was formalised after Moussavi, who also has a producer credit, won a high-profile pitching competition at the 2006 conference of the Screen Producers Association of Australia.
My Tehran For Sale is Cyan's first film. The next most advanced in its slate is Cornucopia, a supernatural thriller.
'We are interested in global stories and unique stories, and in partnering with people anywhere in the world,' said Ryan.
The biennial Adelaide Film Festival is set for a program announcement tomorrow on its upcoming edition which runs Feb 19 - March 1, 2009.