Awards galas celebrate the best of the previous year. But the Goya, in its 38th edition that takes place this Saturday in Valladolid, are being forced to also look at the worst of the past and present of Spanish cinema: violence and abuse against women. With the goal and hope that, perhaps, this future will bring concrete actions and solutions.
A year ago, filmmaker Carlos Vermut walked the red carpet at the Goya Awards as a candidate for best director for Manticore. The publication two weeks ago in EL PAÍS of an article in which three women accused him of sexual violence has marked Spanish cinema to the point that the Ministry of Culture announced, hours before the Goya gala, the creation of a unit for “care and prevention of sexist violence.”
It is a final action that adds to previous statements: the Academy confirmed days before that the ceremony “will make visible the claim that sexual violence and abuses of power have no place in the world of cinema or in society as a whole.” Spanish”. And the Association of Women Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media (Cima) explained on Thursday that its members will carry a white fan with the motto #seacabó—inherited from the world of sports—in red. With this, “they want raise awareness among all film and audiovisual professionals of the situations of abuse of power and sexual violence suffered by victims.” Just in the year in which, for the first time, after 38 editions of the Academy Awards, 61% of the nominations – individual and shared – include women (in 2023 it had reached 40%).
EL PAÍS contacted several of the main organizations in the audiovisual sector. The president of the Film Academy, Fernando Méndez-Leite, canceled the interview due to scheduling problems. Cima directly declined to respond to this newspaper’s questions. The Union of Actors and Actresses did not respond either. That is to say, organizations known for their loquacity have been silent for days.
On the other hand, Dama, the audiovisual rights management entity, did respond to this newspaper through its general director, Carmen Pacheco: “We strongly condemn any form of abuse and harassment. We expressly sympathize with the victims. Our position is firm: abuse and violence have no place in any area, and we actively work to foster a safe and respectful environment in the audiovisual community. Our doors will always be open to provide help and advocacy to victims. “We hope this case marks a turning point.” It is a line similar to that marked by the Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun, two weeks ago at the entrance to the Feroz awards, and which took shape on Friday with the announcement of this unit for “care and prevention of sexist violence in the cultural sector.” The main objectives of the office, Ministry sources underline, are “to support victims of sexist violence and, secondly, to carry out specific studies to develop protocols and recommendations that respond to the specific needs of each sector and organism linked to culture”. But little more: there is no financial memory, it is not known what the structure will be, how it will fit into the organization chart of the ministry, who will direct it or the personnel it will have.
The same thing happens with those attending the gala. A nominee sums up the two currents of thought that seem to run through Spanish cinema: “On the one hand, it is angry that opening this Pandora’s box now casts a shadow over everything. It should be a very bright moment of brotherhood and celebration. At the same time, perhaps the fuse has been lit. These cases of sexual violence have also opened the door to talk about abuses of power, which are really the evil of this industry and of many.” This is said anonymously, which provides another clue about the mood of the sector. “When I get together with other female filmmakers, they share everything from subtle abuses of power to lack of respect, obvious cases of machismo. That is in society, it is difficult to change it suddenly, and even more so when all the leaders have been established for decades and remain full of men. That’s also why it’s difficult to talk: you can reveal a case, but it’s going to make a splash. All the friends of that person in power are going to turn their backs on him. Reporting someone is creating a problem for yourself. And Spanish cinema is a network where everyone knows each other and you are closing doors,” says the nominee.
Icíar Bollaín, nominated 13 times for the Goya and winner of two awards (for the original script and direction of I give you my eyes)which these days is filming in Bilbao I am Nevenka, Yes, he responds to EL PAÍS: “Cinema is a showcase for Spanish society, and in reality, it is also a reflection of Spain. And the abuse of power occurs in many places: there has not been a Me Too neither in politics nor in journalism, in science, or in the University. I hope many people rethink their attitudes and ways. A general review of Spanish society is necessary, and yes, I include cinema in it.”
In reality, controversial issues are multiplying in 2024 around a gala that has traditionally been a speaker for social protests. The mobilization of farmers that shakes Spain and Europe flies over the ceremony and even makes it shake: the protesters have threatened with a tractor unit that will block Valladolid this Saturday and also the access to the Fair Auditorium where the Goya awards are held. The Government subdelegation in Castilla y León announced on Friday an “unprecedented” deployment for the ceremony and admitted its concern about the possible mobilization of farmers with the capacity to cause chaos in the city. Also on Friday, the Civil Guard and the National Police controlled road access to the Castilian-Leonese city, and the subdelegate of the Government in Valladolid, Jacinto Canales, declared that this Saturday “they are leaving to try to prevent the entry of tractors,” reports Juan Navarro The Film Academy has asked those attending the gala to come to the auditorium in advance.
The presence, for the first time, of representatives of the far-right party Vox also stirs Spanish cinema. The city of Pucelana negotiated and managed to organize the ceremony when the municipal corporation was chaired by Óscar Puente, from the PSOE and current Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility. Now the city council is led by the PP with an agreement with Vox, which retained the Department of Culture, although both the organization of this ceremony and that of the city’s film festival, Seminci, fall within the area of Tourism, Events and City Brand, in the hands of the PP.
Because previously members of the formation described the ceremony as a “party act” and even accused it of “whitewashing ETA.” And because on Friday Juan García-Gallardo, vice president of the Junta de Castilla y León and member of the National Executive Committee of Vox, acknowledged that his presence “is going to sting” and added: “They are going to have to scratch it if they itch.” ”.
“The gentlemen are the ones who want to make a living by producing cinematographic works that no one sees later at the expense of millions and millions of euros that Spanish taxpayers pay with great effort,” García-Gallardo added about many of the protagonists with whom he will coincide in the Red carpet. In passing, he asked them for “real demands,” referring precisely to those of the farmers.
And there is still another conflict: previous Goya winners have already criticized Israel’s invasion of Gaza, and it would be little surprise if the message is repeated today, 21 years after the “no to war” ceremony in Iraq.