‘Holy Spider’ Actor Zar Amir Ebrahimi To Lead Göteborg Film Festival Jury

Holy Spider breakout Zar Amir Ebrahimi will head the jury of the Nordic Competition at the 46th Göteborg Film Festival, running from January 27 – February 5.

Ebrahimi will be joined on the jury by Danish actress Sofie Gråbøl (The Killing), Ukrainian filmmaker Antonio Lukich (Luxembourg, Luxembourg), and composer Matti Bye. The jury hands out the gong for the Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film. Last year, the awards were handed out with a SEK 400 000 ($38,000) cash prize. Nine films will compete in the 2023 Nordic Competition. The nominees will be revealed on January 10.

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“I am incredibly proud to be leading a jury of these impressive artists so that we may not only amplify the stellar work in the festival but to also draw attention to the atrocities happening every day around us,” said Amir Ebrahimi.

Ebrahimi picked up the Best Actress prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival for her leading role in Ali Abbasi’s Holy Spider. In the film, Ebrahimi plays a young journalist who travels to the Iranian holy city of Mashhad to investigate a serial killer targeting sex workers. As she draws closer to exposing his crimes, the opportunity for justice grows harder to attain when the murderer is embraced by many as a hero. The film is Denmark’s submission to the international Oscar race.

The story is based on the real-life case of the ‘Spider Killer’ Saeed Hanaei, who claimed he was on a mission from God as he killed 16 women between 2000 and 2001.

In 2008, Zar Amir Ebrahimi fled Iran due to the risk of imprisonment after an intimate video of her and her partner leaked online. In recent months, the actress has been vocal in her support of the freedom protests across Iran sparked by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in September.

In conjunction with the Swedish premiere of Iranian filmmaker Mani Haghighi’s Subtraction at Göteborg, Ebrahimi will lead a demonstration in support of actress Taraneh Alidoosti and the people of Iran.

Subtraction is a doppelgänger thriller with Alidoosti in the leading role. Alidoosti was released by Iranian authorities yesterday after posting bail. Alidoosti was arrested on December 17, 2022, days after she criticized the Iranian state’s use of the death penalty against protesters.

Göteborg will also hold additional screenings of jailed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s acclaimed 2022 feature No Bears and How Dare You Have Such a Rubbish Wish, directed by Mania Akbari. The film is a story about the liberation, exploitation, and oppression of Iran’s women, based on clips from films from the silent-film era up until the Revolution in 1979.

“Zar Amir Ebrahimi is an exceptional actress and a very brave person. Due to her artistic intelligence, we are delighted to welcome her as jury president,” said Jonas Holmberg, Artistic Director, Göteborg Film Festival.

“Together with her, we want to express our deepest solidarity with the people of Iran and our Iranian filmmaker friends who face an immensely difficult and dangerous situation.”

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