San Sebastian Fest Director Defends Johnny Depp Honorary Prize: “He Has Not Been Arrested, Charged Nor Convicted”

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp AP

San Sebastian Film Festival has hit back at its critics after taking some flak this week for deciding to give its honorary Donostia Award to Johnny Depp.

Last year, Depp lost a high-profile libel case with UK tabloid The Sun over its description of him as a “wife beater” in regards to his relationship with ex-wife Amber Heard. The UK court declared that the allegation was “substantially true”, essentially tarring the actor with that damming label.

Shortly after the verdict, Depp was axed from the Fantastic Beasts franchise by Warner Bros, and more recently Minimata director Andrew Levitas claimed that MGM had shelved his film because it starred Depp.

Today, San Sebastian director José Luis Rebordinos came out firing in his response to those who had criticized the event for its decision. In a lengthy statement, he reaffirmed the fest’s commitment to “fighting inequality”. He also said Depp had “not been arrested, charged nor convicted of any form of assault or violence against women”.

“In the first place, 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,” said Rebordinos. “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 programme 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.”

“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,” continued the festival director. “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.”

Last year, San Seb took some criticism for giving its opening film platform to the latest Woody Allen picture, despite the director remaining a controversial figure in some circles.

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