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Spain cinema faces #MeToo moment at Goya awards

BI Desk || BusinessInsider

Published: 01:46, 11 February 2024  
Spain cinema faces #MeToo moment at Goya awards

Photo: Collected

Spain's glittering Goya film awards ceremony, which takes place Saturday, looks set to be overshadowed by allegations of sexual assault directed at an independent Spanish filmmaker.

On the eve of the ceremony, actor Sigourney Weaver, who is to be honoured at the event, addressed the affair at a news conference, reports BSS/AFP.

Saturday night's ceremony, which will see director Pedro Almodovar and actor Penelope Cruz presenting several awards, comes a fortnight after three women told El Pais they had suffered sexual violence at the hands of filmmaker Carlos Vermut.

All have asked to remain anonymous and none has filed a police complaint for fear of the effect on their careers. Interviewed by the newspaper, the filmmaker denied the allegations.

And on the eve of the event in the northwestern city of Valladolid, Spain's Culture Minister Ernest Urtasun pledged to open a unit to tackle such abuse allegations within the sector. It was, he admitted, "a very serious problem".

Ahead of the ceremony, the Spanish Film Academy also said it would fight against such abuses in the industry.

"Sexual violence and abuses of power have no place in the world of cinema or in Spanish society as a whole," said the academy, which runs the awards.

- 'A serious problem' -

Speaking Friday, Urtasun pledged to set up a specialist unit within the culture ministry to handle gender violence allegations and "stand by women working in the sector".

"We have a serious problem with sexual assault and violence within the world of culture and we as institutions need to take action," he told La Sexta television.

A rising star in Spain's independent cinema, the 43-year-old director -- whose real name is Carlos Lopez del Rey -- won two top prizes at the 2014 San Sebastian film festival for "Magical Girl", his second feature.

Citing the three women, El Pais said the alleged assaults happened between May 2014 and February 2022. The report sparked anger in a country that has taken a leading role in fighting sexual violence.

One woman accused Vermut of immobilising then choking her and forcing her to have sex, saying she tried to stop him both verbally and physically.

Another, an aspiring director, said he lunged at her to kiss her and ripped her bra off. The third said she had entered a consensual relationship with him but he had subjected her to frightening rough sex to which she had not consented.

- 'Rough but consensual' -

Interviewed by the newspaper three times, Vermut said he had not been "aware of having exercised sexual violence against any woman.

"I have always practised rough sex in a consensual manner," he said.

Since the emergence in 2017 of the #Metoo movement, a string of major figures from the world of cinema have been accused of sexual violence.

This year's Goya awards ceremony will roll out the red carpet for Hollywood star Sigourney Weaver.

The 74-year-old actor will be honoured with a lifetime achievement award for a string of films, including "Alien" and "Gorillas in the Mist".

"I'm very sorry to hear about this case, and my heart goes out to the women," Weaver said, when asked about the affair during a news conference Friday in the northern city of Valladolid.

"It is women who speak up about this situation and abuses, that are making it safer for all women to work in this industry."