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Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Iranian actress: "I have many enemies who do not appreciate my life path"


In Seven Winters in Tehran, the Iranian actress, winner at the last Cannes Film Festival, lends her voice to the late Reyhaneh Jabbari, sentenced to death in Iran, whose broken destiny resonates so much with current events.

Tehran, 2007. After stabbing the man who had tried to rape her, Reyhaneh Jabbari, 19, is sentenced to death.

For seven years, she will wait for her sentence and, determined to make the truth heard, will never agree to negotiate for her life.

It is this story of courage and resilience, heralding a revolution now underway, told by the documentary

Seven Winters in Tehran

, made from family archives, images filmed clandestinely and testimonies of a family who, until the end, will try to save her.

Interpretation prize at Cannes in 2022 for

Les Nuits de Mashhad

, Iranian actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi, exiled in France since 2008, lends her voice to the late Reyhaneh in this shocking and edifying film which shows and hears the revolt of a people determined to fight for freedom.

In video,

Seven Winters in Tehran

, the trailer

Miss Figaro.

– What did you know about Reyhaneh's story


Zar Amir Ebrahimi.

When she was arrested, I was still in Iran and I followed her case closely, hoping, like many Iranians, that she would escape sentence.

I will never forget the day I woke up to the news of his execution.

Reyhaneh was a huge inspiration for Iranian women, the symbol of women's courage, the voice of the oppressed.

It's my turn today to be his through this film which pays homage to his strength.

She is a model of integrity: by accepting to reconsider the accusation of attempted rape, she could have saved her life...

The attacker and his family were close to the secret services, and none of them wanted to be associated with a rape case.

She could have negotiated, but the truth meant more to her than her own life.

In Iran, the whole system is against women: they have no rights, have difficulty finding lawyers, are accused of illicit intercourse when they are raped and, in Reyhaneh's case, the first judge, considered too impartial, was replaced… Women are secondary characters in society, and Reyhaneh knew it: the only ground on which she could prevail was that of courage and dignity.

In Iran, maturity and wisdom are the guarantees of our survival.

We are twice the age listed on our papers.

Zar Amir Ebrahimi

Does living under a totalitarian regime force you to grow up faster


No doubt, and even more so for women.

In the Middle East, we grew up isolated from the world, with war, revolution, economic problems… Very young, we had to find other ways to live, playing with the system.

In Iran, maturity and wisdom are the guarantees of our survival.

We are twice the age listed on our papers.

Through this story, the portrait of a progressive family emerges…

I have incredible respect for Reyhaneh's father who, while his whole family was trying to convince her to lie, said: “It's her who decides.

In Iran, fathers control the lives of their daughters out of misogyny or out of protection, for fear that something will happen to them.

Reacting like him ten years ago was very avant-garde.

It is a show of immense love and respect to publicly assume that a woman can decide for herself.

Reyhaneh Jabbari, sentenced to death and executed in 2014 for having stabbed in 2007 the man who had tried to rape her.

MS picture

The mother, she became a freedom fighter


There is a very strong community of mothers in Iran: their children have been executed or imprisoned, and they are fighting to have capital punishment abolished.

Shole is one of them.

This film is also about their dedication which sometimes leads them to prison.

I met Shole in Berlin, where she now lives: I understood where her daughter got her strength and her integrity.

I am grateful to him for having accepted that I lend my voice to the film.

I have many enemies who do not appreciate my life path and I did not want to tarnish the memory of his daughter.

Read also“Iranian women use images as a combat weapon”: cinema, vector of freedom

Did Reyhaneh's story resonate with yours


She was arrested in 2007, the year after my sex tape was released.

I feel like I was raped by every person who watched it.

And I too tried to resist, as best I could.

In Iran, I was a known face and, in a way, the image of the system since I acted in the films validated by the State.

So maybe they would have left me alone if I had agreed to denounce other people during my seven or eight months of interrogation or if I had implored their forgiveness by invoking suicide and shame.

To survive, I chose to deny my presence in the video and, taking advantage of this lie, while awaiting trial, I

We cannot trivialize or conceal what is happening in Iran, Syria or Afghanistan because obscurantism can emerge anywhere.

Zar Amir Ebrahimi

Do you sometimes fear that public opinion will look away from the situation in Iran


It's a risk, and it's also why those who have a platform continue to speak.

We cannot trivialize or conceal what is happening in Iran, Syria or Afghanistan because obscurantism can emerge anywhere.

Look at Ukraine, or France with the attacks.

The world must stand together on these issues because the fight for the freedom of the Iranian people is the fight of all of us.

We have to isolate the regime.

To negotiate with him is to establish his power.

It is not helping Iranians who do not benefit from money or better living conditions.

Do you believe in a better future for Iran?

If the Iranians remain united, if they educate the children in reaction to the regime, if they are already thinking about the world after, yes.

Even if he does not demonstrate every day, the people now have revolt in their skin.

Especially young people, who are less afraid because they are not traumatized by the great dark days that we have experienced, because they have access to images of a free world.

The courage of this generation, bearer of hope, infuses society.

I don't know when, but we will win.

Not a reform, but a change of regime.

Seven Winters in Tehran,

by Steffi Niederzoll.

Source: lefigaro

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