The San Sebastian Film Festival has come out swinging against those who criticized if for bestowing its highest honor, the Donostia Award, to controversial actor Johnny Depp.
Among the critics were a group of Spanish women filmmakers who said they were “very surprised” that Depp is receiving the award. “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 Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media had told the Associated Press.
Depp lost his libel case last year against British tabloid The Sun that had accused him of domestic violence. Depp was refused permission to appeal the ruling in March, with the British court saying his appeal had “no real prospect of success.”
“In these present times, when lynching on social media is rife, we will always defend two basic principles which form part of our culture and of our body of laws: that of the presumption of innocence and that of the right to reintegration,” José Luis Rebordinos, director of the San Sebastian Festival, said in a statement on Friday. “According to the proven data which we have to hand, Johnny Depp has not been arrested, charged nor convicted of any form of assault or violence against any woman. We repeat: he has not been charged by any authority in any jurisdiction, nor convicted of any form of violence against women.”
“The San Sebastian Festival has been accused of failing to display ethical behaviour in regard to violence against women,” Rebordinos added. “As the director of and person holding the highest responsibility for the festival, I would like to repeat our commitment to fighting inequality, the abuse of power and violence against women. As well as meeting the commitments acquired in the Charter for Parity and the Inclusion of Women in Cinema, the festival has consciously promoted the presence of female professionals at the head of its departments. By means of its September program and throughout the year it participates in the questioning of society from a critical and feminist point of view. We have also endeavoured to create safe atmospheres for women in the festival places of work and sites and, in the event of inappropriate behaviour, which has occurred, we have taken tough and rapid action.”
“But the festival’s ethical commitments cannot only refer to the problems of women in a patriarchal society, despite the terrible nature of the situation in which we live, where hundreds of women are killed every year as the result of crimes by men,” Rebordinos continued. “The rejection of all violent behavior and the presumption of innocence are and will always be our ethical principles.”
San Sebastian will run Sept. 17-25 this year. Depp is expected to receive the award in person on Sept. 22. He has appeared at the event twice before and was crowned one of its favorites for being one of their most high-profile names in attendance the past few years.
Depp will also be feted at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.