Asghar Farhadi Cleared by Iranian Court of Plagiarism Allegations

Two-time Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi has been fully cleared by an Iranian court of allegations of plagiarism pertaining to his film “A Hero” that launched from the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Farhadi’s former student Azadeh Masihzadeh had accused the filmmaker of stealing the idea for “A Hero” from a documentary she made during a filmmaking workshop held by Farhadi in 2014 in Tehran. Her allegations of plagiarism led an Iranian court to open preliminary trial proceedings in March 2022.

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The court has now issued a verdict according to which several Tehran University copyright law experts and other experts have rejected the accusations as baseless, clearing Farhadi of all blame and putting an end to Masihzadeh’s legal action, according to a statement issued by Farhadi’s French producer Alexandre-Mallet Guy corroborated by Iranian reports.

“A Hero” is about an earnest-looking man named Rahim who, while on furlough after being imprisoned for debt, returns a lost handbag full of gold coins — an act that appears to make him a good samaritan. However, the story ends up being more complicated. The film won the Grand Prize in Cannes in 2021 and was Iran’s submission for the international feature film category at the Academy Awards that year.

There was no immediate comment from Farhadi who left Iran in 2023 shortly before protests following the death of Mahsa Amini erupted in his home country and has been working on a new film in Los Angeles and Europe since then.

According to the verdict, the copyright law experts upon examining “A Hero” and Masihzadeh’s documentary, as well as reviewing hours of footage from Farhadi’s workshop, “firmly emphasized that creating a film or work of art inspired by real events or news is entirely permissible, as real events and their news coverage are part of the public domain, and the right to use them is not monopolized by anyone,” the statement said.

The verdict also pointed out that “A Hero” “diverges significantly from not only the documentary but also the real event and its reported news in terms of concept, storytelling, structure, characterization, performance, and all creative elements, thus establishing that no copyright infringement has occurred,” the statement concluded.

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