Johnny Depp Award Defended by Festival: 'Not My Place to Judge What He Is Like in Life'

A film festival defended giving an honorary award to Johnny Depp after an outcry from domestic abuse charities.

The San Sebastian Film Festival is due to give the actor an outstanding contribution award next month and organizers have said that the actor hasn't been convicted "of any form of violence against women."

The Pirates of the Caribbean star lost a highly publicized libel case in 2020 over an article in The Sun that labeled him "a wife-beater" after the newspaper claimed he had assaulted ex-wife Amber Heard.

The Women's Aid Federation have condemned the move to give him an award.

"When a perpetrator is celebrated, allowing them to continue to garner success and public approval, it suggests that abuse is acceptable and does not matter," the group said in a statement last week, per the BBC.

José Luis Rebordinos, director of the San Sebastián International Film Festival, elaborated on the decision to honor Depp at the festival and admitted that he and his fellow organizers hadn't anticipated the backlash.

"We anticipated a debate, a reaction, but maybe not as heightened as it has been. But let's bear in mind Johnny Depp has not been arrested, charged nor convicted of any form of assault or violence against any woman," Rebordinos told Screen Daily.

"I have nothing else to add. It's not my place to judge what he is like in life, the same way I don't know if historically the award has been given to people with an immaculate personal life. The award is given to honor a professional career."

Rebordinos has said that Depp has "been a pleasure to deal with as a professional," adding: "He is an extremely talented actor, something he has proved from his work with Tim Burton to the Pirates Of The Caribbean saga, from his work with Marlon Brando and many other great names in the film industry to interesting choices as a producer."

He added: "We started thinking about honoring him with a Donostia award a few years ago and when we got to meet him last year, we started discussing it more specifically."

Solace Women's Aid has labeled the move "misleading" and "insulting," per The Business Standard.

Meanwhile, Cristina Andreu, the president of Spain's Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media, said the festival's decision to honor 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'," per The Associated Press.

Johnny Depp
Actor Johnny Depp attends the premiere of Disney's 'Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales' at Dolby Theatre on May 18, 2017 in Hollywood, California. Rich Fury/Getty Images