A twisting, human drama of deception and upended reputations, culminating in a reveal of misdoing with rippling moral implications for all involved – as many, many Twitter users have already noted, Asghar Farhadi’s real life has taken on the tragic intrigue typical of his movies in a developing situation regarding an accusation of plagiarism from a former student.
The Hollywood Reporter relayed the news that courts in Iran have found the filmmaker guilty of the charges levied by one-time pupil Azadeh Masihzadeh, who believes the similarities between her documentary All Winners All Losers and Farhadi’s latest feature A Hero are no coincidence. The two-time Oscar winner and Cannes mainstay admitted that his new film dramatizes the same true event detailed as nonfiction in Masihzadeh’s project, but claimed that he’d researched the topic independently. Judges were unconvinced.
Now on the losing end of two rulings – the plagiarism rap, as well as the backfired defamation suit he initially filed against Masihzadeh – Farhadi faces some potentially serious consequences, anything from forking over all income generated by the release of A Hero around the globe (around $2.5 million USD) to possible prison time. It’s a powerfully ironic turn of events, considering that both films in question revolve around a man making false claims about the circumstances of his own accomplishments.
While fans of Farhadi’s work and devotees of arthouse cinema will be distressed by this regrettable episode, the Iranian government probably won’t lose much sleep over it; the artist has come into constant conflict with his state, often decrying their censorship of challenging artistic statements. After nationalists started to embrace A Hero on the basis that it paints Iran in a positive light, Farhadi demanded that the film’s submission to the Academy Awards be revoked as a way of clarifying his stance of opposition.
The THR piece specifies that Farhadi’s legal representation has yet to speak to the press on the present matter, but we haven’t heard the last about this, sure to be a topic of further scrutiny as the Cannes Film Festival launches next month. However things may ultimately shake out, it’s a grim moment for cinema – not just in Iran, but anywhere that art and dissent commingle at great risk.
Published 5 Apr 2022
The tale of redemption and prejudice won the Iranian director a Grand Prix at the Cannes premiere.
Before Mike Hodges and Michael Caine, there was Masoud Kimiai and Behrouz Vossoughi.
Kirill Serebrennikov and Taraneh Alidoosti have been critical of their respective states in recent weeks.