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Did Asghar Farhadi plagiarise the idea for “A Hero” movie from his student?

Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi has been accused of stealing the concept of his successful movie A Hero from his former student Azadeh Masihzadeh. 

Masihzadeh had filed a case against Farhadi in a Tehran court for plagiarising the concept from her documentary All Winners All Losers, which was made for a workshop led by Farhadi in 2014. The movie was also shown at a film festival in Iran in 2018.

Both movies revolve around a real-life debtor in prison who finds a handbag of gold while on leave from prison. He initially intends to return the bag, but things don’t go as planned.

Masihzadeh says that Farhadi neither acknowledged the original source of inspiration for his movie nor did he give her any credit.

Just before the production of A Hero began in 2019, Farhadi asked Masihzadeh to sign a document stating that the idea of All Winners, All Losers was his and she had no rights over it.

She now regrets signing the document and has said that she signed it “under great pressure” given Farhadi's reputation in Iran.

While the court found enough evidence of a violation, which led to the ruling in Masihzadeh’s favor, Farhadi has also filed a defamation case to counter the allegations, claiming that he had independently researched the story and was inspired by the Bertolt Brecht play Life of Galileo rather than Masihzadeh’s documentary.

The case is now being re-examined by the second judge before a final decision. The outcome of decision can have severe consequences on either of them. If Farhadi is found guilty, he will be forced to give all income earned from the move to Masihzadeh and could be imprisoned. If Masihzadeh is proved guilty of falsely accusing Farhadi, she could face two years of imprisonment and 74 lashes.

Plagiarism is a widespread occurrence in almost every field, but young creative individuals and small businesses are more likely to be victims of idea theft. One such company is Issa PR, a luxury and lifestyle brand marketing agency, whose idea was plagiarised by a Turkish start-up Getir without their permission.

This incident is another stark reminder to creators and innovators that they should think about registering their work before sharing it with a prospective client.

PitchMark helps innovators deter idea theft, so that third-parties that they share their idea with get the idea but don’t take it. Visit and register for free as a PitchMark member today.



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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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