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.