Farahani was born in Tehran, the daughter of actor/theater director Behzad Farahani and sister of actress Shaghayegh Farahani. She started studying music and playing the piano at age of five. At 12, she entered a music school in Tehran. At 14, Farahani was cast as the lead in Dariush Mehrjui’s The Pear Tree for which she won the Crystal Roc for Best Actress from the International Section of the 16th Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran. The win contributed to her decision to stay in Iran and choose a career in film over music. She never boarded the plane to Vienna. Since then she has acted in 18 films, many of which have received international awards. For Boutique she won the Best Actress award from the 26th Nantes Three Continents Festival (France). In recent years she has acted in movies by some of Iran’s best directors: Dariush Mehrjui’s controversial film Santouri (The Santoor Player) and Bahman Ghobadi’s Half Moon (winner of the Golden Shell at the 2006 San Sebastian Film Festival), the late Rasool Mollagholipoor’s M for Mother (Iran’s nominee for the 2008 Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film category) for which she won the special prize by the jury for the Best Actress from the 37th Roshd International Film Festival which was held in Tehran in 2007 and Asghar Farhadi’s “About Elly” (Silver Bear for Best Director from Berlin Film festival and Best film from Tribeca Film festival). Golshifteh is highly involved in environmental activities and has also become the ambassador for fighting tuberculosis in Iran.
Subsequent to her involvement in the U.S. film Body of Lies, she reportedly had been prevented by Iranian authorities from leaving Iran,but this was denied by her colleagues and she later appeared at the Body of Lies premiere in the U.S. Her last film in Iran About Elly directed by Asghar Farhadi has been selected at the Tribeca Film Festival and won a Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival but the fate of the film in Iran still remains uncertain. She now lives in Paris, France.