Wednesday, December 7

Five people accuse Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi of plagiarism and appropriation of ideas

The Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi, holder of an Oscar and a Golden Bear at the Berlinale, would have stolen ideas from up to five people for three decades, According to a report in The New Yorker that collects the testimonies of the complainants, among whom are two students and three professionals from the world of cinema.

Asghar Farhadi: “A hero can make mistakes”

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A case of plagiarism was already known in the director’s environment, which was brought to court by his former student Azadeh Masihzadeh, who won the trial. Farhadi could now face a prison sentence when the appeal is heard. Masihzadeh had attended a workshop given by the director in 2014, a course during which she made the short film All Winners, all Losers. The student found signs of plagiarism of her work in A hero, Farhadi’s film shot in 2020, winner of the Cannes Grand Jury Prize and chosen to represent his country at the Oscars.

The New Yorker magazine collects other cases that are added to that of Masihzadeh. Mostafa Pourmohammadi was Farhadi’s student at a script workshop in 2009. When it was released Nader and Simin, a separation, his former classmates called him to tell him that it seemed to be a copy of the short film he had made in class. Pourmohammadi never gave his consent nor was he informed by anyone. “He still loved Farhadi and he loved the movie. It was both an honor and a betrayal”, reveals the former student.

The report gathers antecedents that come from much further back and from his environment of closest collaborators. In 1994, Farhadi premiered a play that had been written by her fellow student Ali Khodsiani. He claimed responsibility, but Farhadi begged him to keep quiet so as not to disappoint his girlfriend Parisa, whom he had allegedly cheated on from the beginning. According to Khodsiani’s account, Farhadi staged the play again at another theater and credited Khodsiani as the author, but Farhadi was listed as the “rewriter.”

Years later, the author and playwright Abbas Jahangirian told Farhadi the story he was writing. The filmmaker proposed to work on a joint film version but never formalized a contract. In 2003 it premiered Dancing in the Dust and Jahangirian saw that “it was the same story with a little change” and without his name, he tells the American magazine. Farhadi apologized and added his name to the version broadcast on television.

lack of recognition

Film director Mani Haghighi and Asghar Farhadi co-wrote fireworks wednesday. After its success, they began work on another script which, according to Haghighi, they decided not to continue. This project would end up being the movie About Elly, in which Haghighi himself acted but was never listed as the author. Shortly after this event, Farhadi outlined to Haghighi the script for his new film, Last, and he proposed to act in it. As Haghighi explains, the story was based on an episode of her divorce, which she had told the director some time ago. “It’s weird when someone hears your life story and they go and write a script about it, and the way they tell you is ‘Would you like to be in this movie?'” says Haghighi. Ultimately Farhadi chose another actor and never named Haghighi as part of the film’s creative process. Some time later they worked together again. Everybody knowsand Farhadi only named Haghighi in the end-credits acknowledgments, along with fourteen others.

Azadeh Masihzadeh, Farhadi’s student who brought him to trial, assures that if he had thanked her in the fine print of the credits she would be “silent forever”: “I just want him to be honest with me, that’s all,” he tells The New Yorker. But according to her former student, Farhadi never wanted to talk to her. The director filed a lawsuit against her for a crime of defamation, facing a sentence of one year in prison or seventy-four lashes. After losing the first trial, Farhadi appealed and the case will be reviewed by the Criminal Court and the Court of Appeals.

After the publication of the report, the prestigious filmmaker has responded to the multiple accusations alleging that the journalist who signs it, Rachel Aviv, ignored his testimony and the information he provided.

Plagiarism in the field of film teaching is a recurring concern. In Spain, an Audiovisual Communication student reported two years ago on Twitter to the management team of the Antena 3 series the fence, of Daniel Écija, for having stolen the idea that he proposed in a class. “Later I met more than one screenwriter who told me that this is the daily bread in our profession,” posted this user identified as Juanji on the social network.