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Interview With Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI); Interview With "Holy Spider" Actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi; Interview With Axios Chief Financial Correspondent Felix Salmon. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 15, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what is coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're at an inflection point. Investments we make today will have far reaching impacts on the world for generations to
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AMANPOUR: President Biden overseas touts the power of democracy, while at home his party routes Trump-backed election tires. I'll speak to the
Democratic congresswoman, Elissa Slotkin, of Michigan, fresh from winning a tight race. Plus.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We also have to deal with honor murders, armed robbers. Know your place, Miss.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A timely new Iranian film uncovers the dangers of misogyny and religious solitary (ph). The celebrated actress, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, joins
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Defiant Chinese residents, revolt against continued strict COVID lockdowns. But will authorities finally relent?
And, crypto collapse. Journalist, Felix Salmon, untangles one of history's most shocking financial implosions.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has addressed the G20 virtually. And just hours afterwards, Russia responded with missile attacks
across Ukraine. Putin's latest salvo follows the liberation of Kherson, with Zelenskyy compared to D-Day, invoking that World War II turning point
by the allies. It comes as the west once again unites to defend democracy.
For the United States, that means not just supporting Kyiv, it also means countering illiberal forces at home. And on that front, the Democrats have
scored yet another victory. Katie Hobbs has won Arizona's race for governor, defeating a Trump-backed election denier. And Hobbs had help from
an unlikely ally, Liz Cheney.
Indeed, the Republican bucked her own party and endorsed three Democrats, all of whom won their races. That list includes my first guest tonight, the
Michigan Congresswoman, Elissa Slotkin. And she's joining me now from Washington.
Congresswoman Slotkin, welcome back to our program, and congratulations on your win.
REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Thanks very much.
AMANPOUR: So, can you explain to me how you, a true-blue Democrat, one inter alia with the backing of a very prominent Republican Congresswoman,
SLOTKIN: Yes. Well, look -- I mean, I'm one of the few Democrats that represents a Republican leaning district to begin with, and I have since
2019. But to be honest, if you would have asked me just a couple years ago, would I ever be sharing a stage and inviting Liz Cheney to do a campaign
event with me? I would not have put money on that.
We disagree on a lot of issues. And we were open about that, even that night when we are campaigning. But we agree on one really big issue which
is preserving democracy and the importance of preserving democracy.
So, we -- I brought her out because frankly, to me, democracy is the ultimate kitchen table issue. My district is very focused on kitchen table
issues, their pocketbooks, their kids, and I wanted to make that connection between electing someone who's extreme and what that would do to their
pocketbooks and their kids. So, she was very generous, she offered, she came out, and it was a great event.
AMANPOUR: So, we've actually asked quite a lot of our guests in the aftermath of what clearly the pundits and the political press in the United
States were proved wrong, right? And you've just said, democracy was a key kitchen table issue, even in your conservative district. That is pretty
amazing. Did you expect it to be so throughout your campaign or were you surprised as well?
SLOTKIN: No -- I mean, to be honest, I knew in Michigan we were going to have a great night. It was just very clear, if you have your ear to the
ground, then you understand how things are going to go, and we won up and down the ticket, flipped her House and Senate, passed a bunch of ballot
initiatives, codified Roe V. Wade in our state. So, we had a fantastic night. And I knew that we are on track to do something important. Because I
could, you know, hear it when we were knocking on peoples; doors, right? You knock on 80,000 people's doors, you hear directly from them what they
care the most about.
SLOTKIN: And I think, to be honest, people just choose the least extreme candidate on the ballot in every race. And they split their tickets,
Republicans voted for Democrats because, you know, in many cases, the Republican on the ballot was too extreme and did not believe in democracy.
And I -- you have to trust the voters at the end of the day. And that's what we did and that's how we won.
AMANPOUR: So, again, it's fascinating. And there is a little, sort of -- kind of, description of the concept. One concept that you used that, it's
lose better. It was a little bit of a mantra in -- for you and your campaign. It was a Midwest mantra that this reporter said she heard over
and over again on the trail.
And that you, you know, in the last days, as you have just said, knocked on doors, even in the reddest parts of the district. I do think that a lot of
people will be surprised about that. I mean, I understand the -- you know, it's conservative, but I still think in this very poisonous partisan thing
that is America, that is quite incredible.
SLOTKIN: Yes, and I -- you know, I think -- look, there is just not enough Democrats for me to win my race based on just to them. So, I've always
known that. I've always needed independents. I've always needed moderate Republicans. Republican women have always been critical for me winning in
these last two elections. So, I knew that.
And the goal is you go to a conservative area where maybe they haven't seen Democrats show up in 40 years, and you knock on doors, and instead of
getting 39 percent of the vote you get 42 percent of the vote. Instead of getting 41, you get 48. And that's how we knew, even in the early parts of
my night, that we were going to win the race because we were losing better in all of the precincts that were closing early.
So, it's a model that I hope other Democrats around the country think about. You have to go to places where maybe your base isn't living. And try
to appeal to those reasonable ticket splitters, those independents in the middle.
AMANPOUR: And have you actually seen, you know, in the post mortems, you know, it's a week now since this happened, other Democrats using that where
it's relevant? The lose better, you know, kitchen table, knocking on doors model?
SLOTKIN: Yes, you know, I think what we are -- what we did see in this election was parts of the Midwest having really excellent nights, right?
Michigan, Kansas did great, places like Nevada, in the middle of the country. And where we really did not do as well as we would've liked was in
places like New York and maybe California, once those races are counted.
And I think in the coast, they're sort of used to them being blue areas, Democratic areas, so, they don't have the same field campaign. They don't
have the same, like, pounding the pavement approach. They are not going to some of those rural communities, because they don't have to. There's a lot
of Democrats. And in the Midwest, we have gotten really strong at having these broad campaigns. And I hope that's the model going forward. But the
Midwest really showed up this last election.
AMANPOUR: So, that also raises the question of that kind of model actually bolstering the idea of democracy, of actual governing, of maybe cross-party
cooperation in some areas, whether it's -- where it's possible. And I'm wondering whether, you know -- well, President Biden has said he will push
to codify Roe versus Wade, right?
Did you hear a lot about that in your campaigning? I mean, this is a basic, fundamental issue of a woman's right to decide what she does with herself.
SLOTKIN: Yes, that was huge. I mean, I -- when the Dobbs decision came down and we lost the right to have an abortion in our country federally, a
state like Michigan was left in a very different position. We had a 1931 total ban on all abortions, on the books in our state. And suddenly,
Michigan women were looking into the abyss and saying, holy moly, are we about to have this right? This autonomy taken away from us?
We got almost 800,000 signatures in eight weeks, and we got a ballot initiative put on our ballot. It's called, proposition three. And you
better believe that people were out there voting for that. Republicans were, women especially, were voting yes on proposition three.
And then late into the night, you know -- the longest lines of the election, late into the evening, we're at our colleges and universities. I
represent Michigan State, and we were -- there were thousands of kids in line who are waiting to vote. We are bringing them pizza. And if you ask
them, why are you here? Why are you standing in line for three hours? It was the issue of abortion. So, absolutely, it was a motivator for lots of
AMANPOUR: And what do you think might happen to that idea of codifying it for our international, and American audience, if the Republicans actually
are in a majority in the House of Representatives?
SLOTKIN: Yes. Look, I -- it is going to be difficult. We voted on it a number of times in a Democratic-led House. It just has died in the Senate
because we cannot get the 60 votes. We cannot get ten Republicans to vote for codifying Roe in the United States of America.
Maybe after this last election, they've sort of learned that they -- the elected leaders are being more extreme on this issue than the actual
population. I hope they take that lesson from this.
But I just -- I am -- we will keep trying. But I just don't have a ton of faith, because there's so many people here who are from ruby red Republican
districts. They're worried about a primary to the right. They're not worried about a general election. And fortunately, they don't feel the need
to answer that call from their public.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to get to that in a moment. I just want to, sort of, go back to the idea of the international plea and support for democracy
that your country is waging now in its -- in the defense of Ukraine, right? I wonder, you know, you have a lot of foreign policy experience. You're a
CIA analyst, you've been on several tours in Iraq, et cetera.
When you look at how far Ukraine has come, thanks to the help of the United States and allies, and I was told by President Zelenskyy that he really
thanks the American people, because he knows it's taxpayers' money and support from people around the world. He is not silly about this. He
absolutely knows. What more do you think the United States and NATO needs to do to make them win and Russia lose, which is the goal of the U.S.?
SLOTKIN: Yes. I mean, look, I understand. I mean, even in my own district, there were people we'd knock on doors and they said, look, I support
Ukraine but, you know, how many billions are we going to give and how long is that going to be? So, that pressure is a real pressure. And the American
people have been generous. I think it's important to recognize that.
But I think we also need to recognize that what's going on in Ukraine and Russia is not just, like, a -- some faraway issue that doesn't affect
everyone in Europe, everyone in the United States, and everyone who supports democracy.
Do we want a world where a neighboring country can just invade a democracy and claim it as their own territory? Should there be a punishment for that?
Should there be a price to pay? And I think we need to remain resolved on that. And supporting the Ukrainians in what has been a really incredible
run to take back that territory, I think is -- has been important. But we cannot get weak in the knees as they're having these successes as the
winter sets in.
So, a lot of us are really talking about this in Congress about whether, you know, what more we can do with anti-aircraft, you know, a bunch of
weapons to help protect them from the missile strikes that we saw today.
SLOTKIN: Just anything we can. And I really reject this idea that somehow, we should just, like, give up on Ukraine. Call it a day. And get to a
negotiating with Russia. You know, that's not real international affairs. Russia, it needs to be -- they need to pay a price for this. And the only
way they are going to come to the negotiating table is if they feel like they cannot win.
And if they see us getting weak in the knees, they're going to feel like, well, we just wait them out. Let's wait until they get to, you know,
distracted and bored, and then we'll have our victory. We just -- we can't allow that to happen for Ukraine, but also for the rest of the freedom
AMANPOUR: It's interesting that you said, you know, we cannot get weak at the knees also to push them now to the negotiating table. I mean, just to
put a fine point on that, you don't think that it's time for negotiations, right? Whether people are fed up with the war or not?
SLOTKIN: You know -- look, we have a little saying from the Pentagon, where I worked for many years. In the prospect of, for the instance, the
United States negotiating with Russia about Ukraine, I reject. We have a saying, and it's like, you don't negotiate, you know, without them. You
don't negotiate about them without them, right?
You don't have a conversation about a country without them at the table. And the Ukrainians have made very clear that they want to -- they were --
are willing to eventually negotiate, but they got to do it from a position of strength. Obviously, over the past week, they've really gained in that
position of strength. But it's not for me to say, OK. I'm good enough with where they've gotten. Let's have a negotiation as superpowers about the
future of Ukraine. I reject that. Because I wouldn't want someone doing that about the United States.
AMANPOUR: You know, it's interesting, I'm asking you because they -- it obviously has been in the atmosphere. We even heard from the Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs, Mark Milley, who was in a conference, and sort of suggested that it might be time. But I hear you, absolutely, and also we
hear from Ukrainians that they want to keep pushing forward, as they said to me to liberate every inch of their territory.
So, with that, it has not happened yet, as we speak, but there is speculation that Donald Trump wants to have another bid at the presidency.
Despite -- I mean, I don't know. You describe it. It's really catastrophic losses in this midterm for him, right? I mean, do the Republicans see that?
SLOTKIN: So, you know, I sometimes find that elected officials are sort of the last to know when these trends are happening on the ground. And
American politics are so fluid right now. It's changing every, you know, six to 12 months.
I think the message from the election is that those, sort of, Trumpy, MAGA focused, kind of, extreme candidates will not win in swing states.
So, as a party, you should look around the map and say, wow. What happens if our party can't win in swing states? We need to, like, go on a little
trip together. Sit and have an offsite retreat and figure out the new direction for our party. We've got to, like, rebuild and think about a
different direction. And Donald Trump is not that direction that's going backwards and not forwards.
AMANPOUR: And even his biggest backers, the Murdoch Press, have very, very, obviously swerved way away from him. So, that's going to be very
interesting. And finally, let me ask you about a new generation and fresh blood on your party's side. You know, President Biden becomes an
octogenarian. We have, you know, amazingly powerful people in the Democratic Party holding very powerful positions, very successfully, it
turns out who are also of that generation, whether it's the house speaker and other.
You have called and have said that it's actually time for, you know, for new blood in the leadership. What do you anticipate once all the votes are
in and the lay of the land, you know, and the House is clear. Will Nancy Pelosi have the votes to still be the leader of her party? You know, will
people rally behind a different candidate for president next time?
SLOTKIN: Yes. So, I think -- you know, it looks like the Republicans have the House of Representatives or will have a slim majority. So, then we're
talking about if Nancy Pelosi decides to stay, we're talking about minority leader and she has the votes to secure that, right? That's a secret vote.
That's just among Democrats. It's very different than trying to run to be the speaker of the house.
But, you know, I -- no one knows. You'll have to speak with her about what her plans are. But I do think regardless in the House, in the Senate, at
the White House. Running for president, running for Senate, all these places, we need to be more deliberate as a party on building the bench,
right? On getting more names and faces out there.
And I will tell you my bias is, I don't see a lot of Midwesterners in that leadership. I see a lot of California and New York, who we love. But the
middle of the country is also a bid important area as well, especially a lot of those swing states. So, I'd like to see more Midwestern leaders come
forward. I just -- I don't -- I'm not saying, you know, out with experience and in with the new. I'm saying, can we do a little bit of a better job
building that bench and bringing them up.
AMANPOUR: Really fascinating. Elissa Slotkin, representative from Michigan, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Thank you.
SLOTKIN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, back at the G20, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, followed his summit with President Biden by meeting with the leaders of
France and Australia. But at home, his never ending strict COVID lockdowns have sparked furious new protests. Correspondent Kristie Lu Stout has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Angry residents are taking to the streets in a lockdown Haizhu District of Guangzhou. Images circulating
widely on Chinese showed residents under lockdown in Haizhu defying local orders. Some are seen breaking through roadway barriers that were meant to
confine them at home. And in one video, a woman's voice is heard in the background saying, "They are revolting".
Now, CCN has been able to geolocate these images to the Haizhu District of Guangzhou but we cannot independently confirm them. On Tuesday, local
officials confirmed that large parts of the district are still under lockdown with the area's deputy head Su Ming-Qing saying this, "We've also
realized many of our shortcomings."
Now, Guangzhou is a major economic hub that's home to 19 million people has become the epicenter of a nationwide COVID-19 outbreak. On Monday,
Gunagzhou reported record COVID-19 infections along with other major cities, including Beijing. And even though the case numbers are very low
compared to global standards, China has been holding tight to it's zero- COVID policy. A policy of mass testing, lockdowns and border controls which has disrupted both lives and livelihoods.
And the protest in Guangzhou come weeks after video emerged of a rare protest in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa over China's tough pandemic rules
and that brazen protest in Beijing that directly attacked China's zero- COVID policy.
One Banner read in part, "No to lockdown. Yes, to freedom." And despite the rising public discontent, China is sticking with zero-COVID. To Beijing,
the policy is necessary to save lives and to protect China's medical systems. But as we're seeing once again played out in Guangzhou, many
simply have had enough as anger and desperation continue to rise in zero- COVID China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Kristie Lu Stout reporting there.
The United States says that it is deeply concerned over reports from Iran of mass arrests and sham trials. And at least one person has been sentenced
Protesters remain on the streets 60 days after the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini. And the U.S. has welcomed sanctions from the E.U. and the
U.K. on some two-dozen people involved in the violent crackdown.
Iran's misogyny and religious suppression come into sharp focus in the new film, "Holy Spider". It's a fictionalized account of try story that dates
back to the year 2000. That's when the so-called spider killer started murdering sex workers in the northern city of Mashhad, often using head
scarves. The film took years to make, but it's proven to be quite timely. And it stars the award-winning actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi as a journalist
investigating the killings. Here's a clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Some say this person is carrying out a fatwa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You believe we conspire behind closed doors. Be careful what you do. Especially in the holy city of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Let this case go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's like a bottomless black hole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Zar Amiri -- Zar Amir Ebrahimi, herself, has become an Iranian exile. And she's joining me from Los Angeles.
Welcome to the program. And congratulations, you won the best prize there in CANNES for this film. But I want to know whether we can start by talking
about what is happening in Iran itself. You fled, you chose to flee and we will get into that. But when you see what's happening, and especially the
fact that it is around head scarves, which has a link to your film, what do you feel all the way there in Los Angeles?
ZAR AMIR EBRAHIMI, ACTRESS, "HOLY SPIDER": Yes, this is a very strange feeling to be here and have this possibility with this movie to talk about
Iran. You know, I'm -- somehow, I feel lucky. I have no idea if I was here with another movie, another movie about another corner of the world, a
comedy. I would -- I just manage it, you know.
I think every day, I wake up and I, just -- you know, I wake and I sleep at night. I -- I'm just -- I have Iran in my mind. I'm just -- as everyone
watching these videos coming from Iran, reading news. And yes, in a very strange way, everything is very related to our movie.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me --
EBRAHIMI: When I think about this movie, "Holy Spider", it's any way, about the patriarchal society. It's about misogyny. And the way I filmed
it, it's -- you know, we had the chance to just shoot this movie without any censorship, without any control of that government. So, we have -- we
can watch these women, these different faces of women without, you know, we have their hair, we have their skin, their body and -- yes.
AMANPOUR: You know, you referred to the director, Ali Abbasi, who himself is, I believe, he's Danish-Iranian. You were not allowed to shoot it Iran.
Talk to me about how this film came to be. Because, you know, it's obviously, you had a lot of pushbacks from the Iranian authorities. How did
you become the actress? Where did you film it? How did you manage to make it?
EBRAHIMI: Yes, Ali, at some point, he wanted to shoot in Iran but he never, you know, he asked for permission but he never got the answer. And
this is a way that they say no, I think. They never say yes. They never say no. But, you know, sometimes I am -- I can just say, I feel -- I think, I'm
a happy that he didn't manage to shoot in Iran because, how -- you know, how can you make a movie about prostitution in Iran with all of those red
And as I said now, we have a movie very close to reality. It's a very unique movie. It's a film noir. And the, you know, it -- the city of
Mashhad, it has a special character. As Ali always says, it's a noir character already, this city. In the daytime there is life, you know,
people are working. People are just praying. There is this shrine -- Imam Reza shrine there. It's a holy city and people from the street from all
over the world, they come there.
And, you know, this life during the day and then at night, there are -- there is prostitution, drug dealers, and many other, you know.
There is another side of -- another dark side of the city. And all these, I think, somehow the -- it is a red line of the government.
EBRAHIMI: You know, the -- we are just showing this hardest (ph) city and the prostitution is happening right there.
EBRAHIMI: And so, at some point, Ali decided to -- anyway to shoot the movie in Turkey. But after pre-production, three months of pre-production
in Turkey, we heard that we can't even shoot there. We don't know why but they didn't let us, they didn't allow us to shoot there. Then we changed
again the location and we went to Jordan.
And then, about myself, I have -- I had a long, long journey with this movie. I started working on this project with Ali as casting director. And
now, I'm basically an actress, but when I heard about this project, I thought I just want to help him to do it in the -- to make it in the best
way possible. And I suggested myself as casting director because I knew everyone and I just thought I can put everyone together.
And again, it's another reason for this movie to be unique because there are people from inside and outside, everyone got together to just make this
movie. And somehow, a week before shooting, the actress who was supposed to play this journalist, she, for some reason, she just changed her mind. And
we had almost no one left. Ali was unhappy with any of those actresses we met. He had a very special idea about this journalist. And then, somehow,
he just said let's try. And we --
AMANPOUR: And we cast you.
EBRAHIMI: -- we tried.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes. You --
EBRAHIMI: I was there.
AMANPOUR: Yes, you were there and you became the star of this film. So, you play an investigative journalist. Are trying to figure out all that
you've just told me. What was actually going on there, this serial killer. I think there were, like, more than a dozen women that he killed using head
scarves to actually strangle them.
And here you are in this clip, you are trying to get into a hotel as your base while you are trying to investigate this in Mashhad. And here are the
difficulties you encounter at the check-in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EBRAHIMI (through translator): You want to make life difficult for me? I'm a journalist. Here's my ID.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): A journalist? Just wait a moment, please. That's fine.
EBRAHIMI (through translator): So, you fixed the error?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, we've fixed it.
EBRAHIMI (through translator): Alright.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Please cover your hair.
EBRAHIMI (through translator): That's none of your business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, there's a whole load of layers there. First, you know, you tell him it's none of his business about your head scarf, which is just so
poignant, given that that is what this whole demonstration and uprising is about in Iran right now. Secondly, how difficult it is for a woman just to
check into a hotel. What did -- tell me about that scene in terms of what it says about Iran. And the Iran you were trying to investigate, or at
least her character was.
EBRAHIMI: You know, I think this is our daily life. You know, as a woman, as a person who grew up -- as a woman who grew up in Iran. I think this is
my -- that was my life every day, every single day. You just -- you put your scarf, your head scarf, and you just come out, you know. And you don't
know what is waiting for you. You don't know if someone just arrests you are not, because only you didn't just put -- wear it in a correct way.
So, that's -- yes, that's a very strong beginning, you know. I think, as a journalist, you know better than me. I -- when I just started working on
this character, I called my journalist friends and I heard lots and lots of sad stories about harassment, about assaults, and the difficulty they have,
you know, with society, with authority, with -- even the people that interview. And this is part of that problem, that difficulty that
journalists have in Iran every day. But this is woman life also, our life.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and the other thing, which is really quite dramatic, is your own personal story. And it's kind of relevant because I think you draw
on that in this character. So, you're a very famous actress. You played in a very famous soap opera, "Nargess" there. And after a while --
essentially, a sex tape came out. And you had to flee. Tell me about that. How did that happen? At what point did you decide you couldn't stay there
EBRAHIMI: Yes, I always prefer to say my personal video, intimate video, not sex tape. But yes, everyone call it a sex tape. I had this, you know,
before -- actually, let's say I was 25. And I had this series. And then right after that series, and then right after that series, this tape just
somehow leaked. And after a year we found who just stole it from us, from me and my ex-boyfriend of that time.
And, you know, as an actress, I was -- somehow how well known, and then somehow, I have to say, I was the face of national TV. So, they really
couldn't stand it. And right after, you know, they started to interrogate me every day. It took seven, eight months. And the day when the government
wanted somehow to show me as that bad person who produced and distributed this kind of, as you say, sex tape, and they just created a lot about it.
You know, the sentence I could have was about prison, lashes, and ban of working. And, somehow, you know, I didn't want to leave Iran. I wanted to
stay and defend myself. But at some point, I had to deny. I had to say this is not me otherwise I couldn't really defend myself. I couldn't really save
my life. I could even, you know, get the death sentence.
And so, that was, really, for me, very hard time. Because I had to act. I had to lie. This is also our everyday life in Iran because we learn from --
you learn from your childhood how to lie. And that's why I think always we are all actors. We are all good actors. 80 million actors. And so that was
my -- sometimes I think that was my biggest role ever. I just managed to lie every day and then I just saved my life by just leaving that country in
the morning of my trial.
AMANPOUR: You were about to go on trial.
EBRAHIMI: Because I -- somehow, I just found that nobody support me, nobody was with me, you know. My colleagues, my friends. I had only, I can
say, five, six friends, close friends who were with me. And, you know, the society was everyone was selling this tape in the city, in the street. And
everyone was just watching it. Somehow, I just thought I'm losing my time and I have just to save my life and go and continue life, you know,
AMANPOUR: You know --
EBRAHIMI: I'm happy that I didn't give up anyway.
AMANPOUR: Yes, you didn't give up. And again, you won the best actress award at Cannes for this film. It must have been, and it remains clearly a
traumatic experience and a traumatic memory for you. You have said about this movie, "Holy Spider", it's a movie about a serial killer, but also
about a serial killer of society. And I wonder what you hope the message of the success of this film now, and your success, what message does it send
to Iran particularly at this particular time.
EBRAHIMI: Yes, you know, I think the character I interpret in this movie is the journalist. And for me, that journalist -- you know, it should be
independents, freedom. But it's not. You know, I'm surprised that even as a journalist you don't have your voice. In a very, let's say, daily
situation, even -- this is universal, actually, for me, universal topic. I think you know better than me how you risk your career every day in
journalism or as a women -- as a woman, especially. But I think in Iran, with all the things happening right now.
You know, for me, the character of Rahimi, the journalist in this movie, was kind of fiction. I couldn't find a role model. I knew she's risking her
life, but I didn't know -- you know, I couldn't find the right reason why she would risk her life at that point. Only for herself to make the society
safer, or she's risking her life for everyone. Women and men.
And somehow, I have the answer today. When I just watch all of those brave women we are fighting in the streets of Iran for freedom and to just make
the society safer for themselves. But not only for them, for men.
EBRAHIMI: And also, men who are supporting these women. That is why, for me, it's a revolution. You know, the journalist, that's really sad that
those journalists who just reported on the death of Mahsa Amini are in prison today.
EBRAHIMI: And they are facing death and they are accused to be spies because they just did their job.
AMANPOUR: Yes, there are two female reporters who, as you say, are in prison for telling that story. And finally, I want to ask you this, because
the Iranian, you know, the government has said, and others, even while this serial killer was active and when he was being held to account finally,
that he was cleansing society. That he was trying to clean up, you know, this religious society of these, you know, of these, as he called them,
dirty women. Here is a clip of you, the journalist, encountering the wife of the serial killer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If those women had been decent, they wouldn't have been on the streets chasing other women's husbands.
EBRAHIMI (through translator): I was also one of them. Your husband brought me here, to your home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): You have no right to be roaming on the streets. My husband was forced to do his duty.
EBRAHIMI (through translator): Is he the police? Is it his duty to "cleanse" the city?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He was at the front line, he comes from a family of martyrs. And when he sees these women on the streets
of this holy city, chewing gum, wearing short coats and high-heels, do you think it's normal?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, your character had finally exposed him by, you know, entrapping him, essentially. You posed as a sex worker and you entrapped
him and your reported him. But it is extraordinary that, even his wife, perhaps -- you know, and some in the greatest society, defended him.
EBRAHIMI: Yes. This is how I think this character, you know, becomes somehow the reality, that fictional character that maybe I just channeled
my own experience of life in, especially in the last year in Iran. I just tried to channel my experience to this character. And she became somehow,
let's say, Zar, I became Rahimi. And it was really smooth for me.
But at some point, today, I feel it -- this character became the reality. You know, this scene was one of the most difficult scenes for me because I
had, I think, somehow I brought my question to this movie.
EBRAHIMI: And this time, you know, when I was in front of the wife, I was asking myself, who am I? Am I only a journalist? Am I a woman? Am I -- you
know, as a journalist, you have to keep your distance in a way. You don't need to be really sensitive or emotional with your subject. And there, I
was asking myself, how should I play with it? How should I talk to her? And the woman who was just standing here two nights ago and was a target. Am I
a, you know. So, I somehow --
AMANPOUR: Zar, I hate to say this --
EBRAHIMI: -- when I --
AMANPOUR: -- but we're out of time. I'm so sorry. We're out of time right now. But it's so powerful. And I hope everybody, especially in the United
States and everywhere, can actually watch it. Thank you so much for being with us.
EBRAHIMI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
Turning to the world of cryptocurrency, following the collapse of an industry giant. FTX, the world's second largest exchange of that regard, is
sending shockwaves throughout the industry ever since it filed for bankruptcy on Friday. Axios chief financial correspondent Felix Salmon
joins Hari Sreenivasan to explain the consequences of this meltdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Felix Salmon, thanks much for joining us. First, let's break this down a
little bit. What is FTX? Who uses this?
FELIX SALMON, CHIEF FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT, AXIOS: It's an exchange. It's where you go to trade cryptocurrency. If you wanted to trade in and out of
Bitcoin, Ethos, Solana even stable coins, you would need to do that on some kind of an exchange. And FTX was, up until last week, the second biggest
crypto change in the world. So, traders and especially sophisticated traders, were drawn to FTX. The ones who would trade very frequently, in
high volumes, often for clients.
SREENIVASAN: OK. So, last week, what happened? What was revealed by this Trade Publication CoinDesk?
SALMON: Well, it turned out that all of the money that people put on to FTX with the intention of trading it -- well, not all of it, but probably a
majority of it, had actually been transferred out of the exchange entirely and to this sister hedge fund of FTX, called Alameda Research, which had a
big hole in its balance sheet. And it just disappeared. So, when people wanted to get their money back, it wasn't there.
SREENIVASAN: So, walk us through kind of what happened last week. Because there was this moment where, after these revelations, that some of the
funds were missing and there's kind of a run on the bank, so to speak, then there was the opposition, so to speak, of competing exchange was about to
buy FTX and kind of save it.
SALMON: So, the biggest exchange in the world, Binance, is -- has this kind of long-standing friction with FTX. They don't like each other very
much, even though Binance was an early investor in FTX. And a week and a half ago, something like that, CoinDesk is this publication, came out and
revealed that the Alameda Research balance sheet was looking a little bit dodgy in various ways. It had a lot of its -- the FTX exchange token, it's
a bit nerdy, but basically, it raised questions about the quality of the balance sheet and just how much money FTX and Alameda Research had.
Because he was an early investor in FTX, the CEO of Binance, this guy, CZ, decided he was going to sell all of the token that he owned. And that was a
precipitating event that caused the bank run that caused the death of FTX.
SREENIVASAN: And so, after that, why did Binance choose not to rescue it?
SALMON: So, in the first instance, he said, well, what we need to do is rescue the assets first. Even if we lose half a billion to a billion
dollars rescuing FTX and filling the hole on its balance sheet, it's worth it to us just so that broad faith in crypto generally isn't hurt. If
everyone in FTX gets their money back, that's great for everyone, including us. And if we have to pay a little bit of money to ensure that, we will.
He then starts looking at FTX and discovers, number one, that the hole is much bigger than you thought it was. And number two, that it's under
criminal investigation by U.S. authorities. And at that point, he's like, I can't touch this anymore, and he walked away.
SREENIVASAN: So, let's talk about those other three initials that are getting a lot of headlines, SPF, that's Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder,
I've heard him in lots and lots of interviews say, you know, kind of -- when asked like, what's the big difference in what are you doing? He would
always say, managing risk. And, you know -- and he was literally a guy that was out in front of regulators asking them to regulate this industry. So,
that seems pretty ironic at best.
SALMON: He came from a very famous hedge fund here in New York called James Street, as did the CEO of Alameda, Caroline Ellison. And Jane Street
is legendary for exactly this thing, of managing risk and making sure that you never lose too much. It just seems that at some point fell by the
wayside. And he started advancing a much greater appetite for risk than people thought he had. People knew he had a strong appetite for risk, but
nothing like this. And he was just making these kinds of bets on salvation, where he but the entire company trying to make his losses back.
SREENIVASAN: He also became a bit of a poster boy for this industry because so many people, for so long, had talked about how cryptocurrencies
are the wild west, and he was trying to change that image and his success seems to be doing so.
SALMON: He spent a huge amount of time on Capitol Hill, trying to persuade American lawmakers to create regulatory regimes, I would say, that would
let him operate his exchange in the United States. But the fact that he jurisdiction shopped around the world and wound up in the Bahamas, which
had basically the friendliest crypto jurisdiction you could find, is a sign that he wasn't really looking for tough regulation. He was looking for a
regulator that would let him do whatever he wanted to do.
SREENIVASAN: How rich did he become, at least on paper?
SALMON: $26 billion.
SREENIVASAN: And how rich do you think he is today?
SALMON: Probably negative. I mean, depending on how much he personally guaranteed. It's a bit hard to tell, he will probably have some money left
over. But yes, definitely, he is no longer a billionaire anymore.
SREENIVASAN: What is it that made Sam so trustworthy or credible? Why was he, you know, called the next Warren Buffett or all kind of -- you know,
just saying, OK, this is the guy who's going to be able to regulate the unregulated and create -- you know, make sense out of this wild west?
SALMON: It's a very good question. I mean, he didn't look on the face of things to be particularly credible, he was thie (INAUDIBLE) schlubby (ph)
guy who only ever wore shorts and a t-shirt, who is based in the Bahamas, who had hedge funds. None of these things scream trustworthiness, right?
But in the world of crypto, he was probably the most credible person they had. And the people in the crypto world had so much money invested in
crypto becoming this incredible technology that they basically just poured all of their hopes and dreams onto the shoulders of this 30-year-old kid.
And it -- yes, turned -- turns out to have been a pretty bad idea.
SREENIVASAN: We should note that he has not yet been charged with any crimes, right? I mean, this is -- right now, he's acknowledged in some
tweets that he's made mistakes but nothing has crossed over into illegality, yet.
SALMON: The internet is concerned. You know, the internet is not (INAUDIBLE) judges. The internet seems to be pretty convinced that he
engaged in criminal activity. You're absolutely right, he has not been charged with any crime by any authorities. And you know how long it takes
to draw up an indictment.
SALMON: So, that could be a while, if it does happen, it could be a while before it happens.
SREENIVASAN: So, we are talking about the actions of one exchange, one person. What is the ripple effect that this will have on the crypto
industry? I mean, you wrote this week that this was the week that the crypto dream died. Explain that.
SALMON: The crypto dream was this dream that SBF was selling to his venture capital backers. The crypto dream was this idea that really started
in 2010 after the financial crisis, that dollars and pounds and yen are untrustworthy because they are issued by governments and you can't trust
governments. And the banking industry is not trustworthy, it caused this massive global financial crisis in 2008. And what we need to do is replace
all of that, what is known as fiat currency, government issued currency, with something that you don't need to trust, something that you -- all you
need to do is trust mathematics, and that's it. And then, it's -- you know, it's just mathematically preordained, basically.
And you would eventually wind up using these cryptocurrencies, in Sam Bankman-Fried's words, to buy a banana. You know, it would become how you
were paid, how you transacted, how the world -- the payment rails to the entire world would become crypto rather than fiat. That was the dream. We
didn't get very far towards the dream. Truth be told. But the dream was still alive. The crypto true believers still believe in that dream up until
And I think at this point, they no longer believe in that dream because it is obvious how useful governments really are in a payment system. It's
obvious how important it is that you have the lender of last resort and some kind of government who can bail out a financial industry if they need
SREENIVASAN: So, what happens now to all those people who did lose that money? Now, I should say, I mean, the way that you are characterizing it
and the kind of traitors that are using this are probably the more sophisticated kind, probably the kind of people who should know the risks
of doing business on this platform, right?
SALMON: So, whenever you have any kind of financial crisis, it's always the stuff you trust that is the most dangerous. If you invest in something
like Bitcoin, which goes up and down by thousands of dollars a day and no one has any predictability around it, then you expect that the value of
your Bitcoin will go up a lot or down a lot and you know that if it goes down a lot you can lose that investment, and that's fine. You are walking
into that risk with your eyes wide open.
But if you put one Bitcoin on the FTX exchange, you have lots of faith and trust thanks to blockchain technology and distributed ledgers, and you can
see where that Bitcoin is, in theory, that that Bitcoin is always going to be worth one Bitcoin. And no matter how much Bitcoin is worth you can
always get that Bitcoin back. And that is something that you felt was a pretty safe bet.
And so, there is where you feel very betrayed right now because you put a Bitcoin into the exchange and you don't get back one Bitcoin, which is
worth less. You can get back zero Bitcoins, and that's really -- if you can't trust FTX and you can't even trust some of that distributed financial
exchanges that FTX was running, then that really does make crypto just a -- you're taking a lot more risk and what you own is unhedgeable (ph) risk.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. So, what do you think this does to the regulatory environment? Do you think members of Congress or anywhere in the world are
going to look at this and say, look, we really need to get our handle on this?
SALMON: Oh, they have been saying that for years and they will continue to say that for years. And there are two big problems. Number -- the first big
problem is that the American lawmakers can't really agree on how they want to regulate it. The regulators, the CFTC, the SEC, the OCC, all those kinds
of people, are all absolutely unanimous that they need Congress to make some laws, you know, saying what the regulations are. They punted it over
the Congress and Congress can't agree on anything right now. So, it's going to be very hard to get Congress to really put together a robust set of
regulations, and it will take many years if it ever happens at all.
And then, the second problem is, that even if the U.S. Congress did do that, as what we've seen, crypto is global. It's international, is based in
places like Singapore, in Hong Kong, in the Bahamas, and it's not clear that a set of robust and coherent American regulate nations would prevent
someone from going to the Bahamas and doing exactly what we just saw.
SREENIVASAN: What do you see in the weeks going forward on the ripple effects of this? There been previous kind of, not just mishaps, but
mishandling of funds and other problems that have happened with exchanges. Is this a bigger deal?
SALMON: This is the biggest one since 2014 when Mt. Gox, which was the biggest exchange at the time like just disappeared overnight. As they say,
like the value of coins, yes, that can go down, that could go up. People know that risk, they take that risk, they are used that risk. If the value
of coins goes down by another 25 percent after already having gone down by, you know, 70 percent, fine, whatever, like the crypto world can totally
cope with the value of coins going down.
The -- what it finds -- what it's going to find much harder to recover from is this general feeling of there is no and we can trust. And even though
what we wanted to do was create a trust-less system where you didn't need to trust anyone, in practice, you always need to trust someone.
SREENIVASAN: Over the past couple of years, we also saw, otherwise, kind of traditional financial institutions opening up their exposures to
cryptocurrency partly because people were seeing these Super Bowl ads, they wanted to get it on this market that just went up, up and up. So, is there
an impact on traditional financial markets, any kind of more retail investor that might be going through their trusted bank to say, you know
what, let's put, I don't know, 10 percent in this crazy crypto space?
SALMON: So, yes. If you have a Robinhood account or a Square Cash app account and you have crypto in that account, then it's almost certain that
that crypto is worth less than it was a few months ago. And that was true even before the FTX blowup, part of the reason why FTX blew up was because
everything in the crypto world had declined a lot in value and that we surmised caught some of the problems with the Alameda balance sheet on. So,
that's the bad news.
The good news is that the overwhelming majority of those people, if you had your crypto coins somewhere like Robinhood or Coinbase or even, as you say,
a big institution like Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan, they've kept onto those coins. You still have those coins, you have access to those coins, no one
has stolen those coins, they might not be worth as much as they wear when you bought them but they are still there.
And in general, U.S. regulated institutions seem to have weathered this storm and none of them, with the exception of FTX U.S., seemed to have had
any problems. But FTX U.S. is a problem, right? FTX U.S. continued to operate even after FTX failed. And everyone said, well, look, FTX U.S. is
firewalled, is ringfenced, you can continue to withdraw, don't worry about it. And then, one day, it filed for bankruptcy and ended all withdrawals.
So, that's a big problem for the people who think that American institutions are safe because there's relatively small American
institution, it's still American institution, and that one turned out to not be trustworthy either.
SREENIVASAN: Felix Salmon, chief financial correspondent for Axios, thanks so much for joining us.
SALMON: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That's it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.