Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi took home Oscars in 2012 and 2017 in the best international feature category. His 2021 film, A Hero, managed to win the grand prize at Cannes—but also land him in court to fend off allegations of plagiarism. The director has been accused by former film student Azadeh Masihzadeh of ripping off the premise of her own documentary, All Winners All Losers. The BBC reports that the plot of Farhadi's film centers around a man named Rahim, who's imprisoned in Iran over an unpaid debt and, while on a two-day temporary release, returns a gold-coin-filled bag to its owner, winning widespread praise. "However, he soon begins to come under suspicion," notes the BBC.
Masihzadeh's documentary—which ABC News reports she started working on during a 2014 workshop led by Farhadi—concerns the case of Mohammad Reza Shokri. He's a now-former prisoner who did indeed find a backpack full of money during an off-prison day and worked to find its rightful owner "in order to redeem his character and leave prison for good," as Salon puts it. Alexandre Mallet-Guy of Memento Production, which co-produced Farhadi's film, expressed its confidence in a statement, saying Masihzadeh "cannot claim ownership on matters in the public domain given that the prisoner's story has been disclosed in both press articles and TV reports years before Ms. Masihzadeh's documentary was published."
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Masihzadeh counters that the coverage at the time amounted to little more than local reports, and that she did extensive research on her own. Her film played at a 2018 Iranian film festival. Farhadi has denied the plagiarism allegation and filed a suit accusing Masihzadeh of defamation; she then countersued. The THR notes the defamation suit was tossed on Monday, and the court ruled there was enough evidence for the plagiarism case to continue. It will now move to a second judge. (Read more plagiarism stories.)