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Oscar-Winning Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi Found Guilty of Plagiarizing Student Doc for ‘A Hero’

A court in Iran sided with a former student who claimed Farhadi stole her story idea without credit

Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director of two Academy Award-winning foreign language films, has been found guilty of plagiarizing the story for 2021 Cannes Grand Jury prize-winning “A Hero” from a former student’s documentary, according to multiple reports.

The Iranian court’s ruling cannot be appealed. Sentencing could range from prison time to Farhadi being forced to surrender any profits from the film, for which Amazon has U.S. distribution rights, and which has made more than $2 million so far in worldwide box office.

“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 sets about trying to find its rightful owner — a choice that leads to a cascade of unintended consequences. TheWrap posted what would be one of many positive reviews for “A Hero,” saying Farhadi’s latest is “shot with precision, written with elegance and unfolding at a thriller-like pace.”

Farhadi had conceded that the film is based on the same true story as “All Winners and Losers,” a documentary developed by Azadeh Masihzadeh while she was a student of Farhadi’s. But Farhadi didn’t credit her, and claimed he had been researching the tale independently.

When called out by his student, Farhadi sued Masihzadeh for defamation; she then countersued Farhadi, claiming he had plagiarized her original work. The court, based in Tehran, sided with Masihzadeh in both cases, agreeing that her copyright had been violated.

A U.S.-based rep for Farhadi did not have immediate comment Tuesday.

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