Iranwire – A former student of Oscar-winning Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi says Farhadi has now been summoned to court in Tehran over a case of alleged plagiarism.
Azadeh Masihzadeh has accused the director of lifting a storyline she developed for use in his 2022 Oscar entry, A Hero. Her own documentary, All Winners, All Losers, was researched and created at a 2014 workshop under his supervision in Iran.
On Monday, Masihzadeh told the website Gozar News: “After a few months of examining the lawsuit, the examining magistrate of Tehran’s Culture and Media Court decided that enough evidence existed to summon Farhadi to court.” An 18-page summons, she said, was delivered to both sides on April 3.
In response, Farhadi’s lawyer Kaveh Rad said that of three lawsuits so far brought in relation to A Hero in Iran, two had been thrown out. “This summons is not the court’s final verdict but part of the process,” he added.
Masihzadeh first accused Farhadi of plagiarism after A Hero screened at Cannes Film Festival last July. Her own documentary had screened at an Iranian film festival in 2018.
Both films take as their point of departure a man finding a bag of gold coins and resolving, despite his own problems, to locate its rightful owner. They were based on the same set of real-world events involving an ex-prisoner from Shiraz. But Farhadi holds that he conducted his own research into the story.
Following Masihzadeh’s public accusation, Farhadi tried to sue her for defamation – an offence that can carry a prison sentence and lashes in Iran – but the court there was insufficient evidence to support the claim. Masihzadeh then counter-sued.
If the court finds Farhadi guilty of plagiarism, he may also face jail time or have to forfeit all income earned by A Hero in theaters or online. The film was released in the United States by Amazon Studios.
A Hero won the Grand Prix at Cannes and was selected as the Iranian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 2022 Academy Awards. Farhadi, however, has railed against the notion that this meant he had the Iranian government onside.
“If Iran’s putting my film forward for the Oscars has led you to the conclusion that I am under the shadow of your flag,” he wrote last November, “I explicitly declare that I have no problem with canceling the decision. I no longer care about the fate of the film I made, with all my heart.”