Culture minister: Persons in Iran linked to “Holy Spider” face punishment   

June 1, 2022 - 18:36

TEHRAN – Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance said on Wednesday that those persons inside Iran who were involved in the serial killer drama “Holy Spider” will face punishment for their collaboration with the project.

Speaking to journalists, culture minister Mohammad-Mehdi Esmaeili said, “If persons from inside Iran are involved with the film ‘Holy Spider’, they will surely receive punishment from the Cinema Organization of Iran.”

“This film has been produced outside of Iran and the main members of its crew live abroad; it has been shot on locations in Jordan and has not received authorization from Iran,” he added.

“Holy Spider” has been directed by Denmark-based Iranian filmmaker Ali Abbasi based on a true story about a serial killer targeting sex workers in Mashhad, home to the shrine of Imam Reza (AS), the eighth Imam of the Shia.  

The co-production of Denmark, Germany, Sweden and France premiered last week at the Cannes Film Festival, which awarded the France-based Iranian star of the film, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, as best actress for her portrayal of a journalist tracking the serial killer.

Following the Cannes awards ceremony, the Cinema organization of Iran viewed “Holy Spider” as insulting to Imam Reza (AS) and the Shia in a statement, denouncing Cannes for awarding the film’s star.

The organization called the Cannes decision to acclaim the film “an insulting and politically-motivated move.” 

The statement also said that the Cannes Film Festival is an event organized under the French government’s control and authority, and asked France and the organizers “to remove this black mark from the festival’s professional reputation.”

This year’s Cannes also premiered the Iranian drama “Leila’s Brother” directed by Saeid Rustai, whose stars’ critical remarks on Iran in their interviews, as well as actor Navid Mohammadzadeh’s move to kiss his wife Fereshteh Hosseini, who is also an actress, on the red carpet, provoked the anger of the Cinema Organization of Iran. 

The director of the organization, Mohammad Khazaei, said that taking a strong stance on the Iranian government in press conferences would never bring them international acclaim.

He also asked the Iranian Cinema House, which is also known as the Iranian Alliance of Motion Picture Guilds, to investigate the issue and report the results to the Cinema Professional Ethics Council.

Photo: Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad-Mehdi Esmaeili in an undated photo.

MMS/YAW

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