Dozens of Egyptian artists, critics and intellectuals signed a statement rejecting the El Gouna Film Festival's plans to honor the actor Gerard Depardieu, opposing his links with Israel.
The statement explains that the intention of honoring the French actor is a form of unacceptable normalization with Israel.
Earlier this month the El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) had revealed that the French actor would receive this year’s Career Achievement Award.
The same stance was taken by the artists in 2018 when the Cairo International Film Festival planned to honor French filmmaker Claude Lelouch. After being heavily criticised in Egypt for his support for Israel, the festival withdrew its invitation to Lelouch.
The statement against honoring Depardieu demands the same action be taken by GFF, motivating the demand is the actor's strong ties with Israel.
"Honoring Gerard Depardieu is in violation with the unanimous agreement of the General Assembly of the Federation of Art Unions and the majority of Egyptian artists which reject all forms of normalization with the Zionist enemy and its supporters. In addition [the actor] has been accused of rape and the case is still under investigation under French law," the statement reads.
According to Reuters (2018), "Gerard Depardieu is being investigated by the Paris prosecutor over accusations of rape and sexual assault, a judicial source said. French media said the complaint had been lodged by a 22-year-old French actress."
Dozens of names have already signed the petition. Among the names are filmmakers Ali Badrakhan, Mohamed Fadel, Arab Lotfi, Ahmed Atef, Dora, Tariq Al-Zarqani, Director of Photography Mostafa Ezz El-Din, director and screenwriter Yousry Mansour, actor and director Magdy Ebeid, writers Ahmed El Khamissy, Mohamed Gharib Gouda, Mustafa Al-Saeed, Maher El Shayal; among dozens of others. The signatures also include a few names of artists from Palestine, Lebanon and Tunisia.
The 4th edition of El Gouna Film Festival is scheduled to take place from 23 to 31 October 2020.
Gérard Depardieu was born in 1948 in Châteauroux, Indre, France. He started his acting career at a small travelling theatre in the 1970s and as his popularity started to grow he began working for cinema. In the 1980s and 1990s, he became a leading French actor, awarded a César as Best Actor for The Last Metro (1980) and Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), a film for which he also received an Oscar nomination. In 1996, he was distinguished by the highest French title of "Chevalier du Légion d'Honneur".
Away from his career in France, Depardieu has been always under the limelight for his strong ties with Israel with multiple and highly publicised visits to the country.
Among his best known films is Hello Goodbye (2008) in which Depardieu stars with Fanny Ardant. The film follows a Jewish couple aiming to recover their Jewish roots. The film was set mostly in Israel.
In 2016, Depardieu visited Israel with Ardant, this time starring in a play La Musica Second by Margeurite Duras.
In 2017, Depardieu and Isabelle Adjani gave performances of Love Letters in Haifa and then in Tel Aviv. The show has seen several runs by many actors and directors on Broadway and off-Broadway.
In 2018, the YNet News / Jewish World wrote: "actor Gerard Depardieu, singer Charles Aznavour and former President Nicolas Sarkozy are among some 300 well-known French people urging national action to counter a “new anti-Semitism” that they blame on rising Islamic radicalism."
"The statement urged prominent Muslims to denounce anti-Jewish and anti-Christian references in the Quran as outdated so 'no believer can refer to a holy text to commit a crime'" the article reads.
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