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Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers has called out the San Sebastian Film Festival, Spain’s leading cinema event, for choosing to give controversial actor Johnny Depp its lifetime achievement award.
The group said it reflected badly on San Sebastian that the festival chose to honor a man accused of abusing his ex-wife, Amber Heard. A British judge last year ruled in a libel case that a newspaper’s claims of domestic violence against the actor were “substantially correct.”
“This speaks very badly of the festival and its leadership and transmits a terrible message to the public: ‘It doesn’t matter if you are an abuser as long as you are a good actor’,” Cristina Andreu, president of the association, told The Associated Press. Andreu said the association, which has close ties to the San Sebastian festival, was “studying next steps” to take to express their displeasure.
In March, a British court refused Depp’s request to appeal the ruling, saying it had “no real prospect of success.” Depp is also suing his ex-wife for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post op-ed essay that she wrote claiming to have been a victim of domestic violence, though she did not name Depp in the piece. That trial has been delayed until April 2022.
Following the British court ruling, Depp said he was asked by Warner Brothers to resign from his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the third Fantastic Beasts film. He was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen. MGM picked up Depp’s latest film, Minamata, for the U.S. but has yet to release the movie, leading director Andrew Levitas to claim the studio wants to “bury” the film because of the controversy surrounding its star.
In an email to The Hollywood Reporter, San Sebastian’s festival director José Luis Rebordinos said “the role of a film festival is not to judge the conduct of members of the film industry. The role of a film festival is to select the most relevant and interesting films of the year and to extend recognition to those who have made an extraordinary contribution to the art of film.” Rebordinos argued that Depp, who has twice attended San Sebastian in the past, is “a great actor, a man of cinema with a great career.” He pointed out last year’s festival screened Julien Temple’s Crock of Gold: A Few Round With Shane Macgowan, a documentary on the legendary Pogues singer (and Depp BFF), which Depp produced. The film won a special jury prize at the festival.
San Sebastian isn’t alone in wanting to celebrate the Pirates of the Caribbean star. On Tuesday, the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic, also said it would be honoring Johnny Depp this year, with special screenings of Crock of Gold and Minamata, a Depp passion project, in which he stars as W. Eugene Smith, the Life Magazine photographer who helped document the devastating effect of mercury poisoning on coastal communities in Japan in the 1970s.
The Karlovy Vary festival made no mention of the controversy surrounding Depp, saying only the actor was “an icon of the contemporary cinema” who the festival has “admired for such a long time.”
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