Oscar–Winner Asghar Farhadi Indicted on Charges of Plagiarizing His Latest Film: Report

Oscar–winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi‘s plagiarism battle has taken a new twist. According to The Hollywood ReporterFarhadi has been indicted in Iran on charges that he took the idea for his film A Hero from his former film student Azadeh Masihzadeh. The movie was shortlisted for this year’s best-international-feature Oscar.

A Hero won the Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Prix award before hitting theaters and Amazon Prime. It tells the story of Rahim (Amir Jadidi), a flooding man who, despite his own debts, returns a bag of found gold coins to authorities in order to stoke his own public image. Last September, Farhadi told Vanity Fair that he was first attracted to the themes of his film when he read Bertolt Brecht’s play Life of Galileo at university. “It always stayed with me,” he said, but “I never thought that I would write a movie or a play or anything about that concept.”

THR reported that Farhadi was indicted for allegedly lifting the idea for A Hero from All Winners All Losers, a documentary that Masihzadeh developed while at a workshop taught by the Farhadi. This ruling arrived a day after THR reported that the courts had also ruled in Masihzadeh’s favor in a separate defamation suit filed by Farhadi alleging that she had made false accusations against him.

Farhadi admitted that his feature was based on the documentary’s real-life subject matter, but claimed he had researched the story on his own, per THR. A Tehran court found evidence that Farhadi had violated Masihzadeh’s copyright, and, according to THR, the plagiarism case “will now pass to a second judge, whose ruling can then be challenged in an appellate court. The judge can also order the case to be re-examined.”

A previous version of THR‘s article wrongly reported that Farhadi had been found guilty in the plagiarism case. According to Deadline, Farhadi’s lawyer, Kaveh Rad, wrote on Instagram on Tuesday that “the decision is not the final verdict of the court and is considered part of the trial process, and in the continuation of the trial process, the case will be re-examined first in the second criminal court and then in the call it short.” Rad also claimed that the case investigator had denied Masihzadeh’s request for a share of the film’s revenues should there be a guilty verdict.

While promoting To Hero, the director behind Oscar–winners A Separation and The Salesman told VF that this is his first film in which “there is nothing hidden” in the narrative. “I never think that I’ve learned filmmaking,” he said, laughing, at the time. “Filmmaking is like driving a car—you can’t ever say that you’re a good driver, [because] you just have to have an accident one time, and then you’re not.”

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