Iran Court Clears ‘A Hero’ Director Asghar Farhadi of Student Plagiarism Allegations Tied to Oscar-Winning Film

The ruling by a panel of copyright law professors and art experts in Tehran puts an end to the two-year inquiry

Asghar Farhadi
CANNES, FRANCE – JULY 17: Asghar Farhadi, winner of the 'Grand Prix' Ex-Aequo for 'A Hero', attends the closing ceremony press conference during the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival on July 17, 2021 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images)

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi has been cleared of allegations that he plagiarized his Oscar-winning 2021 feature “A Hero” from a former student’s work after a Tehran-based panel of experts in copyright law and art found the charges to be “baseless,” according to multiple media reports.

Farhadi, winner of two Academy Awards for foreign language films, was found guilty in 2022 in an Iranian court of plagiarizing the story and faced everything from prison time to fines. The Wednesday ruling was expected put the matter to rest.

“A Hero” centers on a man who finds a bag of gold coins while on a brief leave from debtor’s prison. He resists the temptation to keep the treasure and tries to find its owner — a choice that leads to a cascade of unintended consequences.

The fictional film is based on the same true story as “All Winners and Losers,” a documentary that Azadeh Masihzadeh developed while she was a student of Farhadi’s. The director maintained that he had been researching the tale independently.

Masihzadeh called him out, triggering a defamation lawsuit against which she countersued – and won. According to multiple accounts in Iranian media, the panel examined both filmmakers’ works and several hours of footage from the film workshops she attended before clearing Farhadi, noting that the true story had been widely reported in the news and on social media in Iran.

U.S.-based representatives for Farhadi did not have an immediate comment on Wednesday.

News of the ruling broke in Iranian outlets and was first reported in the West by The Hollywood Reporter.


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