The Iranian director of A Hero was sued for plagiarism by a former student of his, Azadeh Masihzadeh, who claimed that she got the idea for her film from a documentary she made for class work. A hero tells the story of a man imprisoned for a debt that during a permit tries to convince the creditor to forgive him; in those days he finds a bag with gold coins and, instead of using them to pay his debt, he looks for the owner to return them. It is a story based on real events.
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The Iranian director premiered in 2021 at the Cannes Festival A Hero, winning the Grand Jury Prize. The screenplay for the film is credited solely to Asghar Farhadi himself.
Before receiving the plagiarism lawsuit, Farhadi had in turn sued Azadeh Masihzadeh for defamation, airing that she believed he had copied the idea for the film from her documentary film. Farhadi has lost this trial because he did not consider that the image of the famous Iranian director had been damaged. The documentary that Masihzadeh shot in 2014 was entitled All Winners, All Losers and was screened at the Iranian Shiraz festival in 2018. It can be seen in full on YouTube.
A Tehran court has considered that there were signs of plagiarism and has admitted the complaint. Kaveh Rad, Farhadi's lawyer, has posted on his Instagram account that since the media had already published news two years before the director's student made her documentary, the story "is in the Public Domain and no one can claim exclusive ownership." It also alleges that the court did not have the complaint examined by an expert specialized in cinema.
The case will be re-examined first in a second criminal court and then in an appeal court. A verdict against Farhadi, who has in recent times raised the tone of his criticism of the Tehran regime after keeping a lower profile while promoting his film, could carry a jail sentence.