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Asghar Farhadi Denies He Plagiarized ‘A Hero’: ‘My Film Is Not Based on the Documentary’

The Iranian Oscar-winner was grilled at the Cannes Jury press conference.

Jury members Asghar Farhadi, from left, Noomi Rapace, and Jeff Nichols pose for photographers at the photo call for the jury at the 75th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Jury members Asghar Farhadi, Noomi Rapace, and Jeff Nichols

AP

If two-time Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi thought it was safe to attend Cannes 2022 as a member of the competition jury, he was mistaken.

At the end of the opening day jury press conference, a reporter confronted him with questions about documentarian Azadeh Masihzadeh’s accusation that he plagiarized his film “A Hero” from her 2018 non-fiction film “All Winners, All Losers,” about Mohammad Reza Shokri, a man who returned money he had found during his leave from a Shiraz debtors’ prison. Masihzadeh is a former film student of Farhadi’s.

Speaking on the issue for the first time publicly, the filmmaker admitted to having seen her documentary during a workshop, but said, “You can make a story or a film from the same event, without plagiarizing the other.”

The questioner suggested that Farhadi’s anti-defamation suit could place the young filmmaker either in an Iranian prison for two years or under the whip. [It is rare for lashes to be administered; they can be avoided by paying fines.]

“Incorrect information has been corrected,” Farhadi responded. “What is in the film ‘A Hero’ is different. You have to see why certain journalists spread misinformation. What I did in ‘A Hero’ is not related to that workshop; it is based on a current event two years prior. ‘A Hero’ is one interpretation of the event. The documentary is another approach, they are not the same at all.”

The case is currently being studied by Iran’s religious authorities, Farhadi said.

“There will be a jury to study the case. The judge who is ruling said the two stories were different. He decided there was substance, so a jury could be given. I don’t know when the case will be heard. It’s a lengthy process. It created an amount of ill-feeling. My film is not based on the documentary. There was the suggestion made that the earnings of the film should be shared between the two of us! [A judicial investigator allowed Masihzadeh to proceed with her legal action against Farhadi, but her revenue demand was rejected.] The matter will be cleared up. I am sorry that it has created so much ill-feeling. I hope the mistaken information written by journalists will be corrected. I have not been sentenced!”

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