There will be a #MeToo moment in a film at Goya Awards in Spain

Published : 10 Feb 2024 09:04 PM

The glamorous Goya film awards ceremony in Spain this Saturday is expected to be overshadowed by allegations of sexual assault against an independent Spanish filmmaker.

Actor Sigourney Weaver, who will receive an award at the ceremony, discussed the situation at a press conference on the eve of the event.

Director Pedro Almodovar and actor Penelope Cruz will present multiple awards at the ceremony on Saturday night. The event takes place two weeks after three women came forward to El Pais, claiming they were sexually assaulted by filmmaker Carlos Vermut.

All have requested to stay anonymous, and none have reported anything to the police out of concern for their professional reputations. In a newspaper interview, the director refuted the accusations.

Additionally, Spain's Culture Minister Ernest Urtasun promised to establish a unit to address such abuse allegations within the industry on the eve of the event in the northwest city of Valladolid. He acknowledged that it was "a very serious problem."

The Spanish Film Academy declared in advance of the event that it would combat such mistreatment in the business.

The academy, which oversees the awards, declared that "sexual violence and abuses of power have no place in the world of cinema or in Spanish society as a whole."

"A significant issue"

In a speech on Friday, Urtasun promised to "stand by women working in the sector" and establish a specialized unit within the ministry of culture to address accusations of gender-based violence.

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

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

According to El Pais, which cited the three women, the alleged assaults took place between May 2014 and February 2022. An outrage over the report was seen in a nation that has led the way in combating sexual assault.

One woman claimed she tried to stop Vermut both verbally and physically, but he immobilized her, choked her, and forced her to have sex.

An aspiring director told another that he tore off her bra and lunged at her to kiss her. The third said that although she had gotten into a relationship with him voluntarily, he had forced her to have frightful, physical sex that she had not agreed to.