Saturday, February 24, 2024

Spanish cinema faces #MeToo moment at Goya Awards

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Valladolid, Spain (AFP) – Spain’s film industry elite gathered in the northern city of Valladolid on Saturday night for the Goya Film Awards, but the event was overshadowed by allegations of sexual assault against an independent Spanish filmmaker.

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Two weeks after three women told El Pais newspaper that they had suffered sexual violence at the hands of film director Carlos Vermut, the story was still in the news. Vermut denied any wrongdoing in an interview with El Pais newspaper.

Actor Ana Belen, one of the ceremony’s presenters, confirmed on Saturday that the issue would be “raised” during the four-hour event honoring the film by directors J.A. Bayona and Justine Triet.

“We have to change a lot of things. Violence against women is structural violence,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told reporters as he arrived at the ceremony.

On Friday, American star Sigourney Weaver, who was honored at the event, spoke about the incident at a press conference.

The three-time Oscar nominee said: “I am very sorry to hear about this incident. My heart goes out to the women.”

“Women are the ones who are speaking out about this situation and abuse, making it safer for all women to work in this industry.”

Mr. Weaver, 74, received lifetime achievement awards for a string of films, including the “Alien” series and “Gorillas in the Mist.”

The award for best picture went to Bayona’s “Society of the Snow,” about an amateur Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashes in the Andes Mountains in 1972.

Director Trier’s “Anatomy of a Fall” won the Best European Film Award.

“It’s a serious problem.”

On Friday, Spain’s Culture Minister Ernesto Urtasun promised to set up a unit to deal with such allegations of abuse within the sector.

“We have a serious problem of sexual assault and violence in the cultural world and we need to take action as an organization,” he told La Sexta TV.

The Spanish Film Academy has also vowed to fight against such abuses within the industry.

The Academy, which organizes the awards, said: “Sexual violence and abuse of power have no place in the film industry or in Spanish society as a whole.”

Director Pedro Almodovar and actor Penelope Cruz were also among the award recipients.
Director Pedro Almodovar and actor Penelope Cruz were also among the award recipients. ©César Manso/AFP

A rising star in Spanish independent film, the 43-year-old director, whose real name is Carlos López del Rey, won the top prize at the 2014 San Sebastian Film Festival for his second feature, Magical Girl. We won two awards.

El Pais named the three women and said the alleged assaults occurred between May 2014 and February 2022. The report sparked outrage in a country that has played a leading role in the fight against sexual violence.

In three interviews with the newspaper, Vermut said, “I had no knowledge that he had committed sexual violence against women.”

“I’ve always had consensual rough sex,” he said.

Since the rise of the #Metoo movement in 2017, major figures in the film industry have been accused of sexual violence one after another.

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