The San Sebastian Film Festival has responded to Johnny Depp’s Donostia Award controversy. In a statement entitled “Let’s Talk About Ethics” and signed by the festival director José Luis Rebordinos, the following is said: “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.”
On August 9, Depp was announced as the recipient of the Donostia Award at the 69th edition of the festival, which will take place from September 17 to 25. September 22 will be the day the award will be given to the performer, who is described as “one of contemporary cinema’s most talented and versatile actors.” Depp most recently appeared in the film Minamata (2020).
After hearing the news, Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media criticized the decision. “It 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,’” stated Cristina Andreu to Associated Press.
In the statement released by the festival as a response to these words, Rebordinos reminds us of its “commitment to fighting inequality, the abuse of power and violence against women.” Also, that the festival meets the “commitments acquired in the Charter for Parity and the Inclusion of Women in Cinema” by promoting “the presence of female professionals at the head of its departments” and creating “safe atmospheres for women in the Festival places of work.”
In his statement, Rebordinos highlights that the festival will “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.” The text ends with this sentence: “The rejection of all violent behaviour and the presumption of innocence are and will always be our ethical principles.”
The controversy on the Donostia Award going to Depp comes from the legal battle in which the actor is with his ex-wife Amber Heard, who accused him of verbal and physical abuse. Depp filed a libel suit against British tabloid The Sun for calling him a “wife beater.” The judge determined that the accusations made by the newspaper on the actor were “substantially true.” Subsequently, another court refused Depp permission to appeal against the ruling.
Now, Depp has sued Heard for $50 million over an op-ed the actress wrote about domestic violence for The Washington Post. The trial will take place in 2022.