Zar Amir Ebrahimi is best known for her role in Holy Spider where she became the first Iranian woman to win the award of best actress at the Cannes Film Festival. Both her life and her life's work reveal how refugees have the power to spark important conversations: in their home and host countries.
Zar Amir Ebrahimi was born on July 9, 1981, in Tehran, Iran. She was forced to flee Iran in 2008, facing the risk of a prison sentence and corporal punishment, and migrated to France on the day of her court appearance. All for the 'crime' of being in a sex tape (released without her consent) that widely circulated amongst the Iranian public and drew the disapproval of the Iranian government.
Before her departure, Zar largely took part in what she dubbed as, "mainly spiritual or religious films and programmes" starring in the hit Iranian Soap opera Nargess. However, after leaving Iran her career continued to develop, starring in multiple roles in French television, film and theater, as well as working for the Persian branch of BBC World Service.
In Holy Spider, Zar played the role of a fictional investigative journalist uncovering an Iranian serial killer. The film is based on the real-life case of Saeed Hanaei, who killed 16 sex workers from 2000 to 2001, because of his desire for 'religious cleansing' in the holy city of Mashhad, Tehran. Her adroit performance sent a powerful message that violence against women is still accepted and misogyny normalised. Her work continues to make an international impact in the film community. Shayda, her most recent film, premiered at the Sundance Festival, while Zar has also announced she will direct her own film about her last year in Iran.