Denmark has chosen Ali Abbasi .’s thriller about Iran’s serial killer Holy Spider is an official nominee for the 2023 Academy Awards in the best international film category.
The film is inspired by the true story of a serial killer who murdered sex workers on the streets of Mashhad, Iran’s holiest city, from 2000-2001. When his crimes came to light, some of Iran’s religious extremists defended his behavior as an attempt to purge the city of sin. Abassi’s film follows the case through the eyes of a female journalist, played by Zar Amir Ebrahimi, who descends into the dark underworld of Mashhad to investigate the murders.
Holy Spider premiered at Cannes this year, where Ebrahimi won the title of best actress. Conservatives and state-linked media in Iran condemned the film, with the Culture Ministry calling for Holy Spider “Fake, obnoxious and disgusting.”
Given the current global outcry against Iran’s crackdown on human rights protests across the country, Tehran’s opposition to Holy Spider likely to help the film in the award race.
Utopia picked up the film after its Cannes premiere and is planning a US release on October 28.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the 15 shortlisted nominees for the 2023 International Feature Film Oscars on December 21. Five nominations will be announced on January 24. The 95th Academy Awards ceremony will take place on March 12, 2023.