09 20 Oct '24
C9d8f129 fe42 4d55 ac3b 5c112313e087

Ali Abbasi

Holy Spider

116' - 2022 - Crime, Drama, Thriller - Dialogue: Persian
Director: Ali Abbasi Composer: Martin Dirkov With: Zar Amir-Ebrahimi, Mehdi Bajestani, Arash Ashtiani
Holy Spider is both a thriller in which a serial killer is chased by a journalist, and a merciless dissection of Iran, the homeland of director Ali Abbasi (Gräns).
In Mashhad, the second-largest city in Iran, construction worker Saeed Hanaei murdered sixteen sex workers in 2000 and 2001 by strangling them with their hidjab. The serial killer became a folk hero to the religious right for claiming to be on a holy mission and that "he purged the city of prostitution". Director Ali Abbasi, who moved to Sweden when he was twenty, stays close to the macabre reality, but adds a journalist who investigates the murders and observes that women in Iran - be they reporters or sex workers - are second-class citizens in an autocratic-patriarchal society. Holy Spider - the title refers to the killer's nickname - is therefore both intensely moving and chilling. For her portrayal of the journalist, Zar Amir Ebrahimi won the award for Best Actress in Cannes last spring.
“A fictionalised true-crime drama-thriller based on Iranian Saeed Hanaei, nicknamed Spider Killer, who in 2001 was arrested for the murder of sixteen sex workers in the city of Mashhad, and became a folk hero to the religious right for claiming to be on a holy mission to cleanse the city of prostitution." - The Guardian

Image gallery

042d0e2d 8b1a 4af3 8158 71d051bf69fc
Ca0bcf3e f19c 4177 8e3a e361fcfe6191
5c45817a d7f9 45f9 b51d c20beebc67dd
3e8cc579 928a 406d 9868 d7b7f5c614ad
32550ecb f6cd 4c0d adc6 c9c73d0d2c36
C9d8f129 fe42 4d55 ac3b 5c112313e087
3be6bce6 0da4 449a aa15 ba6db9ea4318
B8029535 55d8 43f5 93da d8012026ca85



Ali Abbasi


Martin Dirkov


Zar Amir-Ebrahimi, Mehdi Bajestani, Arash Ashtiani


Ali Abbasi, Afshin Kamran Bahrami

Director of Photography

Nadim Carlsen


Olivia Neergaard-Holm


Sol Bondy, Jacob Jarek

Production studios

Profile Pictures



More information



Countries of production

Denmark, Germany, France, Sweden




Ali Abbasi
Officer Relaxing After Duty (short, 2008), M for Markus (short, 2011), Shelley (2016), Border (2018), Holy Spider(2022)

Stay up to date, subscribe to our newsletter

Do you want to stay up to date with festival news, our year-round activities, the films and the filmmakers?