Former escort wows critics in Cannes debut
CANNES She is notorious as the underage escort in a scandal that shook the French football team, but Zahia Dehar has confounded her critics with a startling big-screen debut at the Cannes Film Festival.
The former escort, who was allegedly paid for sex by football stars Franck Ribery and KarimBenzema in 2009 when she was 17, was hailed as the "main power source" in the French film An Easy Girl.
Algerian-born Dehar has since traded her trashy reputation for social media fame and her own lingerie brand.
But Easy Girl - whose title plays on her sulphurous celebrity - reveals impressive acting talent way beyond red carpet and photocall pouting.
The Hollywood Reporter compared her to 1960s French screen siren Brigitte Bardot, with one scene on a beach echoing the opening of Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 classic Contempt.
Zahia, now 27, said she was not in the least worried that people would draw parallels between the party-girl character she plays and her own life.
In the film, she leads her innocent 16-year-old cousin into a gilded but cynically transactional world of yachts and flashy restaurants on the French Riviera.
Zahia said: "When I discovered the story of my character, I was really excited because I love free spirits who resist (society's) expectations."
Director Rebecca Zlotowski said Zahia was a perfect choice for her "amorality tale", and she had "great sympathy for women who have been dragged through the mud".
"I associate Zahia's journey with breaking social boundaries, with beauty and her Arabness," she added. - AFP
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