San Sebastian Film Festival Director José Luis Rebordinos defended his decision to honor Johnny Depp with the festival’s lifetime achievement Donostia Award.

Many were surprised that the festival chose to honor Depp after he was accused of assault by his ex-wife Amber Heard. Last year, a U.K. judge ruled that it was “substantially correct” that Depp had abused Heard, after Depp had tried and failed to sue British tabloid The Sun for calling him a “wife beater” in 2018. In March, a judge refused Depp’s appeal of the ruling, saying it “no real prospect of success.”

The president of Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media Cristina Andreu said that the choice to award Depp “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.'”

In a statement responding to criticism the festival’s director said, “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.”

“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,” he 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,” he said. “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 Film Festival is set to take to place September 17 through 25, and Depp is scheduled to appear in person on September 22. He has attended the event twice in the past.

The Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary festival also announced that it will honor Depp’s “extensive career and lasting legacy” at their event later this month.

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