Johnny Depp’s San Sebastian Film Festival Award Slammed by Female Filmmakers in Spain

The Donostia Award is intended to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to film over their lifetimes. On Monday, the San Sebastian Film Festival recognized Johnny Depp as this year’s prize, calling him “one of contemporary cinema’s most talented and versatile actors.” Depp is scheduled to receive the award on Sept. 22.

However, female filmmakers are protesting Depp’s planned accolade at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

The Head of Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media, Cristina Andreu, told the Associated Press she was “very surprised” by the festival’s decision to honor Depp with the festival’s top prize, the Donostia Award, despite his ongoing legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard. The latter has previously accused him of domestic violence. Depp, 58, has categorically refuted all claims leveled against him.

“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 AP.

Andreu noted that the association linked to the festival is currently “studying next steps.”

The award comes despite Depp’s continuing $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard over her 2018 Washington Post op-ed about her experience with domestic violence.

The actress was awarded a $7 million settlement in their 2017 divorce, which she donated to the ACLU and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

According to court documents filed by Depp and his attorneys in New York and obtained by PEOPLE in May, the actor and his legal team have been requesting that both groups disclose the amount of money donated by Heard.

A New York judge granted the actor permission last week to investigate whether Heard donated to the ACLU. The organization has been requested to make the documents available for verification.

Depp had claimed Heard did not give the money in an attempt to reverse a verdict in his “wife-beater” libel case against the United Kingdom’s The Sun earlier this year. Depp’s attorneys contended that Heard’s charitable contributions swayed the court.