Iranian Zar Amir Ebrahimi wins Best Actress award at Cannes | News Arts and Culture

Ebrahimi, 41, won for Holy Spider in which she plays a journalist trying to solve the serial murders of prostitutes in the holy city of Mashhad.

Iranian Zar Amir Ebrahimi, who is living in exile following a smear campaign over her love life, wept with joy as she won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Ebrahimi, 41, won for Holy Spider, in which she plays a journalist trying to solve the serial murders of prostitutes in the Iranian holy city of Mashhad.

“I’ve come a long way to be on that stage tonight. It wasn’t an easy story. It was humbling but there was cinema,” she told the audience during her speech. thank you on Saturday.

Directed by Danish-Iranian Ali Abbasi, Holy Spider is inspired by the true story of a working-class man who killed prostitutes in the early 2000s and became known as the “Spider Killer”.

The film was not allowed to shoot in Iran and was instead shot in Jordan.

Ebrahimi became a star in Iran in her early twenties for her supporting role in one of its longest-running soap operas, Nargess.

“Impossible to show in Iran”

Ebrahimi’s character in Holy Spider has also been the victim of lascivious gossip and male predation. The film suggests there was little official pressure to catch the murderer, who eventually became a hero among the religious right.

“This movie is about women, about their bodies, it’s a movie full of faces, hair, hands, feet, breasts, sex, everything that’s impossible to show in Iran,” Ebrahimi said. to the public.

South Korean actor Song Kang-Ho (L) and Iranian actress Zar Amir-Ebrahimi pose with their trophy
South Korean actor Song Kang-ho and Ebrahimi pose with their awards [Christophe Simon/AFP]

Abbasi insisted the film should not be considered controversial.

“Everything shown here is part of people’s daily lives. There is enough evidence that Iranians also have sex. There is plenty of evidence of prostitution in every city in Iran,” he told reporters.

Ebrahimi grew up in Tehran where she went to drama school, directing her first film at 18, and quickly rose to prominence for playing wise and morally upright characters.

Exiled from Iran

In 2006, Iranian investigators began investigating a widely circulated black market video that claimed to show the young soap opera star having sex with her boyfriend.

The author of the leak, threatened with arrest, fled the country. Ebrahimi said at the time that he had been the victim of an “immoral campaign”. The case became so publicized that Tehran’s chief prosecutor handled it personally.

“They wanted to remove me from everywhere, to remove me from the cinema. Maybe at [commit] commit suicide, die. But in the end, I’m here with this award,” she said at a post-award press conference.

Ebrahimi then moved to Paris, speaking no French, and kept himself afloat with odd jobs.

“I knew nothing about the cinema industry in France,” she told the daily Le Monde. “There was no one to help me. It took me two or three years to figure out where I had landed.

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