Update, April 6, at 2:53 p.m.: New information has emerged regarding the plagiarism suit between Asghar Farhadi and Azadeh Masihzadeh. It was first reported that Farhadi was found guilty of plagiarism; instead, Farhadi is currently waiting to hear if the evidence against him sent to a second judge will be challenged in an appellate court or reexamined, THR reports. Currently, the situation should be viewed as “part of a trial process,” Farhadi’s lawyer wrote on Instagram on April 5, and not a final verdict like originally reported.
Update, April 5, at 10:37 a.m.: Asghar Farhadi has been found guilty of plagiarizing A Hero by an Iranian court. Farhadi’s defamation lawsuit against the student accusing him of plagiarism, Azadeh Masihzadeh, has been thrown out. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Farhadi will now be sentenced by another judge and could be forced to hand over all profits or go to prison. The ruling cannot be appealed.
Original story follows.
Asghar Farhadi, a giant of Iranian cinema, is now embroiled in drama of his own. The director faces two separate lawsuits claiming he plagiarized the plot of his latest film, A Hero, which was shortlisted for the Best International Feature Oscar but not nominated. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a former film student of Farhadi’s, Azadeh Masihzadeh, is claiming she made a documentary that inspired the plot of A Hero during a 2014 workshop. The subject of her documentary is also suing Farhadi for defamation. Farhadi is countersuing Masihzadeh for defamation as well.
A Hero is about someone in debtor’s prison who finds gold coins during a two-day release and decides to turn them in to repair his image. Masihzadeh’s documentary, All Winners, All Losers, similarly follows an inmate in debtor’s prison who stumbles upon gold while out and decides to return it, responding to a prompt from Farhadi to make a film about “returning lost things.” Masihzadeh claimed Farhadi made her sign a document in 2019, before he began production on A Hero, stating that he owned the idea for All Winners, All Losers, which she did “under great pressure.” Farhadi’s lawyer does not dispute the document, saying it clarified that “he was the one who proposed the idea and the plot of the documentary.” His lawyer said he researched the story on his own, based on media coverage; Masihzadeh claims there was little coverage of the incident that inspired her documentary. Relatedly, Farhadi claimed the main character of A Hero, Rahim, is dissimilar to the real-life subject of All Winners, All Losers. One former student from 2011 additionally told The Hollywood Reporter he believed Farhadi made a film based off one of his projects, but did not plan to sue because he “is a genius filmmaker.”
It’s unclear when judgments will be handed down in the trials. If Masihzadeh wins her lawsuit, Farhadi will have to turn over earnings from the film and could face prison time, per THR. If she loses in Farhadi’s suit, she could face two years in prison and 74 lashes.