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Iranian Director Ashgar Farhadi Target of Plagiarism Lawsuit Over “A HERO”

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi has been indicted on plagiarism charges surrounding the provenance of his film A Hero, which took the top prize at Cannes last year. The complainant, Azadeh Masihzadeh, one of Farhadi’s former students, argued before a Tehran court that the two-time Oscar winner had stolen the idea for the film from her documentary, “All Winners All Losers.”

Although some news reports prematurely claimed Farhadi had been found guilty of the charges, the case is still making its way through the judicial system, says the filmmaker’s lawyer, Kavah Rad. In a statement he posted on Instagram this week, Rad noted that the court had denied Masihzadeh’s demand that she be awarded a share of revenue if a guilty verdict is pronounced.

The film’s co-producer, Alexandre Mallet-Guy of Memento Production, also expressed confidence that the plagiarism charges would be dismissed, stating that the complaint holds no weight because the story line had been a matter of public discussion for years. “Various experts in Iran have already published articles analyzing this case and concluding in favor of Asghar,” added Mallet-Guy.

This line of reasoning is being disputed by Masihzadeh, who claims she did her own independent research on the story, which involves an ex-prisoner finding gold in the street that he returns to its rightful owner.

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Mallet-Guy claims that this fact is “only the starting point” of A Hero, which as an intellectual property rightfully belongs to Farhadi.
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“I have an absolute trust in Asghar who I consider one of the most talented and creative directors worldwide,” continued Mallet-Guy. “I think it is important to emphasize here that A Hero, like Asghar Farhadi’s other films, features complex situations where the lives of the characters are built upon one another. The story of this former prisoner finding gold in the street and giving it back to its owner is only the starting point of the plot of A Hero.
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The remaining is Asghar’s pure creation.”

Since its theatrical release, A Hero has grossed $2.5 million worldwide and is represented in the U.S. by Amazon Prime. It was also Iran’s entry in the International Feature Film category at the Oscars.

Edward Moran
Edward Moran
Edward Moran began his journalistic career many decades ago as a theater and cinema reviewer for Show Business and the New York Theater Review. More recently he contributed film reviews to and Movie Sleuth. His writings have appeared in publications as diverse as the Times Literary Supplement, Publishers Weekly, the Paris Review, and the Massachusetts Review. Moran also edited a memoir by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Christine Choy. He served as literary advisor to her film Hyam Plutzik: American Poet, which was the keynote film in the American Perspectives series at the 2007 Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.


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