Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi accused of plagiarism

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Oscar-winning Iranian filmmaker, Asghar Farhadi, is currently facing plagiarism charges in his native country. According to the accusation filed against him, the director would have based his most recent dramatic film To Hero in a previous documentary film —other than his own— without even accrediting the filmmaker responsible for that original film.

To Hero (2021)

The plaintiff is Azadeh Masihzadeh. Some time ago, she was a student in a documentary workshop taught by Farhadi. And during that period, under the mentorship of the award-winning filmmaker, Masihzadeh developed his short documentary All Winners All Losers. This project dealt with the true story of a prisoner who finds some gold coins on the street and decides to return them to their rightful owner.

Interestingly, the first scenes of To Hero advance along the same line: an inmate —who receives a two-day license to get out of jail and pay a debt— finds a bag of gold and is persuaded to return it to its owner. In fact, Asghar Farhadi admits that his feature film is based on the same truthful fact that is based on his student’s short film. However, he claims that he did his own research on the subject.

The accuser alleges that she was the first to extensively investigate the case of Mr. Shokri — the protagonist of the documentary — since previously there were only local news reports. In any case, the producer Alexandre Mallet-Guywho sheltered To Hero Through the Memento Production brand, he has insisted that only the beginning of the film coincides with that true story and the rest “is pure creation of Asghar” (via THR).

The drama To Hero had its world premiere in the summer of 2021. It was part of the official selection of the Cannes Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize.

To Hero (2021)

According to latest reports, a court in Tehran has already ruled against the acclaimed filmmaker. The plagiarism was indisputable based on the evidence presented, which attested that Asghar Farhadi did in fact steal key elements of All Winners All Losers. However, a second judge has yet to intervene before reaching any guilty verdict. In addition, his decision may be challenged in an appeal court, if it is also unfavorable to Farhadi.

“We strongly believe that the court will ignore Ms. Masihzadeh, who cannot claim any ownership over matters in the public domain,” Mallet-Guy said in a statement (via THR). “The prisoner’s story has been reported in both newspaper articles and television reports years before the documentary was published.”

In response to the accusation, Asghar Farhadi sued Azadeh Masihzadeh for defamation. But this week, the same court that ruled against him — on the plagiarism issue — also dismissed the lawsuit against his former ward.

Farhadi is a two-time Oscar winner in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, now called Best International Film. He received the statuette in 2012 for A seperation and in 2017 by The client.

The entry Asghar Farhadi, Oscar-winning director, is accused of plagiarism was first published in Cine PREMIERE.

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