Asghar Farhadi: the producer confident about the outcome of the plagiarism trial

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Tehran court has indicted the multi-award-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, in a case of plagiarism for his last film A Hero. The filmmaker would have taken key elements from Azadeh Masihzadeh’s documentary, All Winners All Losersone of his former film students.
The case will go before a second judge and the decision can be challenged in a court of appeal. The judge can also order the reconsideration of the case.

Asghar Farhadi’s lawyer, Kaveh Rad, clarified on Tuesday on instagramthat the investigator handling the case dismissed Masihzadeh’s claim for a share of the film’s proceeds in the event of a guilty verdict.

The lawyer specifies that the decision of the first judge had to be “considered part of the trial process” and not as being “the last word”.

Released in our theaters last December, A Hero received the Grand Prix at the last Cannes Film Festival. The film carried by Amir Jadidi, Mohsen Tanabandeh and Fereshteh Sadre Orafaee follows Rahim, a man imprisoned because of a debt which he could not repay. During a two-day leave, he tries to convince his creditor to withdraw his complaint against the payment of part of the sum. But things don’t go as planned…

Amirhossein Shojaei

Amir Jadidi in A Hero

Asghar Farhadi had admitted that his film was based on the same true story as All Winners All Losers, that Masihzadeh developed as a student in a documentary workshop that the director led.

During an interview granted to AlloCiné for the promotion of the film at Cannes, the director explained: “Eight or nine years ago, I was teaching in a film workshop as I often do. And as a simple educational project, I proposed to my students to divide into groups of two or three people, and I myself transmitted to them some of these stories which I had picked up in the press. I also asked them to try to find others, and to make small subjects on these people, on courses of this type.

But, here again, it did not go beyond the framework of reflection and the educational approach. It was only even later, when I came back from Spain after filming Everybody Knows, on my return to Iran, that I said to myself that this concept, this subject which had occupied my thoughts and which had interested me for years, deserved more attention to write a story that has this subject at its heart.”
Asghar Farhadi claims to have done his own research on this true story.

Another complaint, filed by Mohammad Reza Shokri, the former prisoner who is the subject of Masihzadeh’s documentary, who claimed his reputation had been tarnished by Farhadi’s film, was dismissed by the court.

Amirhossein Shojaei

Amir Jadidi in A Hero

In a statement, Alexandre Mallet-Guy of Memento Production, which co-produced Un Héros, said he was confident that the court would eventually rule in favor of Farhadi. Here is his statement:

“A Hero is the 8th film by Asghar Farhadi that I have distributed, and the 4th that I have produced. Together, we won 2 Oscars for best foreign film, as well as several awards at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Grand Prix for A Hero Last year.

I have absolute confidence in Asghar whom I consider to be one of the most talented and creative directors in the world. The latter informed me that one of his former students who had made a documentary under his tutelage, as well as a former prisoner whose story, among other things, inspired his film, had filed a complaint in Iran against him.

Following the false information circulating today in the press, it is, I believe, important to clarify the decision rendered in Iran on March 14, 2022 by the investigating judge regarding the film. The role of the investigating judge is to conduct the investigation, gather the evidence, and thus decide whether or not the case should be brought before the courts.

Its conclusions are as follows:

• he rejected the allegation that the film tarnished the reputation of the former prisoner and refused to refer this accusation to a court;

• he rejected Ms. Masihzadeh’s claim of a right to revenue from the exploitation of the film and refused to refer this claim to a court;

• He decided to refer Ms. Masihzadeh’s accusation of copyright infringement on her documentary to a court.

We firmly believe that the court will dismiss Ms. Masihzadeh, who cannot claim ownership of facts in the public domain, the story of this prisoner having been covered in various press articles and television reports years before the documentary by Ms. Masihzadeh be published.

Many Iranian experts have already published their conclusions on this case, all in favor of Asghar.

I think it is important to emphasize here the fact that A Hero, like Asghar’s previous films, shows complex situations, where the lives of the characters are intertwined with each other.

The story of this former prisoner finding a bag of gold coins on the street and deciding to return it to its owner is just the simple starting point for the plot of A Hero. The rest of this complex plot with multiple ramifications is purely Asghar’s creation.

Alexandre Mallet-Guy – Producer MEMENTO PRODUCTION”

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