'Holy Spider' selected as Denmark's Oscar candidate

OSCAR 2023. Ali Abbasi and Profile Pictures' 'Holy Spider' is selected as Denmark's submission in the International Feature Film category.

The Danish Oscar committee, made up of representatives from the film industry and the Danish Film Institute, elected Tuesday Ali Abbasi's 'Holy Spider' as Denmark's contender in the International Feature Film category for the 2023 Academy Awards.

'Holy Spider' was chosen from a shortlist of three films. The two additional titles on the list were 'Forever' by Frelle Petersen and 'As in Heaven' by Tea Lindeburg.

Claus Ladegaard, CEO of the Danish Film Institute who chairs the committee, says:

"'Holy Spider' shows a director with a strong artistic ambition who manages to tell an important story of misogyny while simultaneously keeping his audience in suspense.

The film has experienced overwhelming international attention since it world premiered and won Best Actress in Cannes. It has been selected for a string of prominent festivals, leading up to its US theatrical release shortly. The committee believes that 'Holy Spider', with its bold style and story, can go far in the Oscar race."

About Holy Spider

'Holy Spider' by Ali Abbasi is set in Iran and is inspired by the true story of a serial killer, who in 2000-2001 "cleaned" the streets of female sex workers. At the centre of the story is a female journalist who descends into the dark underworld of Mashhad, Iran's holiest city, to investigate the murders.

'Holy Spider' attracted strong interest at its world premiere in Cannes Competition, where Zar Amir Ebrahimi received the Best Actress award for her performance. Praise continued at the festival premieres in Telluride and Toronto, and more stops on the festival circiut are lined up, including London and Busan. The film has been picked up by US distributor Utopia, launching the US premiere on 28 October.

Iranian-born Ali Abbas graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 2011. He made his feature film debut with the horror film 'Shelley', selected for the Berlinale. His second feature film, the Swedish-Danish fable 'Border', won the main prize in 2018 in Un Certain Regard at Cannes.

'Holy Spider' is produced by Jacob Jarek for Profile Pictures in co-production with German One Two Films by Sol Bondy. Danish theatrical release is set for 13 October.

Danish Oscar Committee

Made up of representatives from film associations and guilds, the Danish Oscar submitting committee consists of:

Chairman Claus Ladegaard (CEO, Danish Film Institute), Kim Magnusson (Danish Producers), Søren Balle (Danish Directors), Mette Heeno (Danish Screenwriters), Jan Weincke (Danish Cinematographers), Nanna Frank Rasmussen (Danish Film Critics), Line Bjørn Daugbjerg Christensen (Danish Cinemas) and Marianne Moritzen (Head of Fiction, Danish Film Institute).

Oscars rules and dates

Each country may submit one film for nomination in the International Feature Film category. Last year, a total of 92 titles entered the race. 

To be eligible in the International Feature Film category, a film's release date must be no earlier than 1 January and no later than 30 November 2022. An international feature film is defined as a feature-length motion picture produced outside the US with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.


Annemarie Hørsman
Communication Officer
Tel. +45 3374 3474

The submission deadline is 3 October. The Academy will be announcing all shortlists on 21 December, including the 15 films that have a chance to become one of the five nominees in the International Feature Film category.

All Oscar nominations will be announced on 24 January. The 95. Oscars take place on 12 March 2023 in Los Angeles.

Danish films and the Oscars

Four Danish films have won an Oscar in the International Feature Film category: Thomas Vinterberg's 'Another Round' in 2021, Susanne Bier's 'In a Better World' in 2011, Bille August's 'Pelle the Conqueror' in 1989, and Gabriel Axel's 'Babette's Feast' in 1988.

For the awards show in 2022, Jonas Poher Rasmussen's animated documentary 'Flee' received three nominations: for best international film, best documentary and best animated film. Martin Strange-Hansen's 'On My Mind' was nominated in the live action short film category.

Below is an overview of Danish Oscar entries in the International Feature Film category over the last ten years. Sorted by awards ceremony year:

2022 Flee / Jonas Poher Rasmussen / Oscar nomination
2021 Another Round / Thomas Vinterberg / Oscar winner
2020 Queen of Hearts / May el-Toukhy
2019 The Guilty / Gustav Möller / Oscar shortlist
2018 You Disappear / Peter Schønau Fog
2017 Land of Mine / Martin Zandvliet / Oscar nomination
2016 A War / Tobias Lindholm / Oscar nomination
2015 Sorrow and Joy / Nils Malmros
2014 The Hunt / Thomas Vinterberg / Oscar nomination
2013 A Royal Affair / Nikolaj Arcel / Oscar nomination

See full list of nominations and awards for Danish films on our Oscar page.