When Iranian actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi fled her country in 2006 due to a leaked recording, she thought her career was over. But on Saturday she became the first Iranian to win the Best Actress award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
Ebrahimi rose to fame in her native Iran, but the highlight of her career in Cannes came while she was in exile, for a film shot in Jordan.
Directed by Iranian Ali Abbasi, “Holy Spider” is based on the true story of a serial killer in the holy city of Mashad, Iran. A journalist, Rahimi, follows as she recounts the hunt for a construction worker suspected in the murder of 16 prostitutes.
Winning the award “was just like a dream,” he told CNN’s Becky Anderson Thursday.
The film touches on the theme of patriarchy, which Rahimi hopes will send “a message of courage, a message of hope, not only for women, but for men and women all over the world”.
The victory brought her back to the fore in Iran and caused a backlash. She the actress told CNN she had received about 200 threats. “The problem is that they haven’t even seen this film, and they are judging this film, just by a trailer,” she said, attributing the reaction to the lack of freedom of expression in Iran.
Ebrahimi fled Iran for France in 2006 after a “private video” of her was leaked, fearing arrest and whipping by the judicial authorities, she said. She had to start her career fresh “in a country where I didn’t know anyone”.
“I had to flee my country, my home. I left my friends and family,” he told CNN. But she refused to let the scandal mar her career. “From the exact day after that scandal happened to me, I only talked about cinema, I thought I was alive and I need to work. And you know, I’ll be alive because I have cinema, because I love my job, because I love life “.
Ebrahimi said his next film will be shot in Australia. He has no intention of returning to his homeland.