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.
Zar Amir Ebrahimi, an Iranian living in exile after a campaign to smear her love life, cried with joy as she won the Best Actress Award at 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 holy Iranian city of Mashhad.
“I have come a long way to be on this stage tonight. It is not an easy story. It’s humiliating but still cinematic,” she told the audience during her acceptance speech 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 by the nickname “Spider” Killer”.
The movie is not allowed shot in Iran and instead made in Jordan.
Ebrahimi became a star in Iran at the age of 20 thanks to a supporting role in one of its longest-running soap operas, Nargess.
Zar AMIR EBRAHIMI, lauréate du Prix d’interprétation féminine pour HOLY SPIDER (LES NUITS DE MASHHAD) de Ali ABBASI.
Zar AMIR EBRAHIMI, winner of Best Actress in Ali ABBASI’s HOLY SPIDER. # Cannes2022 #Palmares # Go forward #HOLYSPIDER #Photocall pic.twitter.com/9Jxw42xZRM
– Festival de Cannes (@Festival_Cannes) May 28, 2022
‘Cannot be shown in Iran’
Ebrahimi’s character in Holy Spider was also the victim of lewd rumors and male predators. The film shows that there is little official pressure to catch the killer, who ends up becoming an interfaith hero.
Ebrahimi told the audience: “This movie is about women, about their bodies, it’s a movie full of faces, hair, arms, legs, breasts, sex, everything that can’t be shown in Iran. “.
Abbasi insists the film should not be considered controversial.
“Everything shown here is a part of people’s daily lives. There is enough evidence that Iranians also have sex. There is a lot of evidence of prostitution in every city of Iran,” he told reporters.
Ebrahimi grew up in Tehran, where she attended drama school, made her first film at the age of 18 and quickly became known for her roles as wise and moral characters.
Exiled from Iran
In 2006, Iranian investigators began investigating a widely circulated black market video that showed the young soap star making love to her boyfriend.
The author of the leak, facing arrest, has fled the country. Ebrahimi said at the time she was the victim of an “immoral campaign”. The case became so famous that Tehran’s chief prosecutor personally handled it.
“They want to remove me from everywhere, remove me from cinema. Can let [commit] to commit suicide, to die. But in the end I’m here with this award,” she said in a post-award press conference.
After that, Ebrahimi moved to Paris, spoke no French and continued to work odd jobs.
“I know nothing about the film industry in France,” she told Le Monde daily. “There was no one to help me. It took me two or three years to figure out where I was.”