CIMA president Cristina Andreu, speaking to the Associated Press (AP), was “very surprised” with the festival's decision, announced on Monday, to award Johnny Depp the Donostia award for the 69th edition of the event, which takes place between the 17 and 25 September. “This says a lot about the festival and its leadership and sends a terrible message to the audience: 'It doesn't matter if you are an abuser, as long as you are a good actor”, said Cristina Andreu. CIMA, which has close links with the San Sebastián festival, is “studying the next steps to take,” she added.

In 2018, Johnny Depp accused a British tabloid of defamation for having published an article reporting assaults on his ex-wife, and lost in court. In March of this year, a British court denied the actor the possibility of appealing the decision that he had assaulted his ex-wife, American model and actress Amber Heard, considering that his attempt to reverse the decision “had no real chance of success". In the aftermath of this case, Depp dropped out of the cast of the next movie in the “Fantastic Monsters” saga, leading the industry magazine Variety to question whether the actor's career could survive.

The San Sebastián Festival's Donostia Prize was created in 1986 to “recognise the extraordinary contribution to the world of cinema made by great figures who will forever remain in its history”. Called by the festival “one of the most talented and versatile actors in contemporary cinema”, Depp is set to receive the award on 22 September, in what will be his third time at the Basque festival. He made his first appearance in 1984 with “Nightmare on Elm Street”, and next in 1990, when he starred in Tim Burton's “Edward Scissor Hands” and “Cry baby”, by John Waters.

Three times Oscar nominee, winner of a Golden Globe (in 2008, for “Sweeney Todd”, also by Tim Burton), “Depp has played writers, undercover or fugitive cops, in casts that put him alongside figures like Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway, Jerry Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Helena Bonham Carter, Javier Bardem, Kate Winslet, Mark Rylance, Dustin Hoffman, Judi Dench, Antonio Banderas, John Malkovich, Marion Cotillard, Forrest Whitaker, Al Pacino, Benedict Cumberbatch, Morgan Freeman, Benicio del Toro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leonardo Di Caprio and Christopher Plummer, among many others”, said the festival.

In the past, the Donostia Award has been awarded to personalities such as Gregory Peck, Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, Robert Mitchum, Al Pacino, Ethan Hawke and Sigourney Weaver, among others. This year Depp will also be honoured at the Czech festival of Karlovy Vary, announced the Czech festival, which will also honour British actor Michael Caine.