Johnny Depp to receive lifetime achievement honour at Spain's San Sebastian film festival

The actor, 58, will collect the festival's Donostia award at a ceremony on September 22, organisers said

Hollywood star Johnny Depp, who has been locked in a bitter divorce battle with ex-wife Amber Heard, will receive a lifetime achievement award at Spain's San Sebastian International Film Festival, organisers said on Monday.

The actor, 58, best known as swaggering Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, will collect the festival's Donostia award at a ceremony on September 22 in "recognition of his career".

Organisers of the festival called Depp “one of contemporary cinema’s most talented and versatile actors” in a statement announcing the news.

Past recipients of the Donostia award – the festival's highest honour which is named after the Basque word for the coastal town of San Sebastian – include actors Meryl Streep, Richard Gere, Ian McKellen, Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver, Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz.

Last year, San Sebastian opened the event with Woody Allen’s latest film, Rifkin’s Festival. Allen, who has been accused of molesting Dylan Farrow, his adopted daughter, in the early 1990s, has been largely blacklisted by Hollywood.

Last month, Depp scored a rare victory in his lengthy and bitter divorce case against Heard when a New York judge partially granted a petition from the actor to determine if Heard had followed through on her promise of donating her $7 million divorce settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

As per the ruling, the ACLU must release documents that confirm whether or not Heard had made the donation, which has become a point of contention in the former couple's legal saga.

The ruling was significant because Heard's promised donation was cited by a judge in the UK while deciding on a libel case brought about by Depp against publishers of The Sun after a 2018 headline labelled him a "wife beater".

Depp, who characterised Heard as a gold digger while claiming her accusations that he was violent towards her were a hoax, lost the case.

Depp and Heard married in 2015 after meeting on the set of 2011 film The Rum Diary. Heard filed for divorce in 2016, alleging that the actor had been verbally and physically abusive throughout their relationship. Their divorce was finalised in 2017, with Depp asked to pay $7m in settlement, which Heard pledged to donate to charity.

In March, Depp lost an appeal to overturn the London court ruling in the case against The Sun.

Depp also sued Heard in 2018 for $50m for an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post titled: "I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change."

In the ongoing suit, Depp claimed he had suffered financial losses because of the accusations, including being dropped from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

On Tuesday, Spain’s leading group of women filmmakers condemned the San Sebastian film festival’s decision to award Depp its highest honour, saying it gave the international event a bad name.

Cristina Andreu, the president of Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media, said she was “very surprised” by the decision.

“This 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’,” Andreu told The Associated Press.

The association, which has close links to the San Sebastian festival, was “studying next steps,” she added.

The 69th San Sebastian film festival, the highest-profile cinematic event in the Spanish-speaking world, will take place from Friday, September 17 to Saturday, September 25.

– Additional reporting by AFP

Updated: August 10th 2021, 1:26 PM
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