In August of 2021, Spain’s San Sebastian International Film Festival announced they would be awarding Depp the Donostia Award, their “highest honorary award,” and described Depp as "one of contemporary cinema's most talented and versatile actors."
In response, domestic abuse charities including The Women's Aid Federation and Solace Women's Aid said that the award was “insulting” and disrespectful to survivors of abuse.
Sophie Francis-Cansfield of Women's Aid stated: "When a perpetrator is celebrated, allowing them to continue to garner success and public approval suggests that abuse is acceptable and does not matter.”
Spain’s Association of Female Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media also spoke out against the decision, with president Cristina Andreu stating: “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.’”
In response to the backlash, José Luis Rebordinos, director of the San Sebastian Film Festival, issued a statement defending the festival’s decision to honor Depp with the award:
“In these present times, when lynching on social media is rife, we will always defend two basic principles which form part of our culture and of our body of laws: that of the presumption of innocence and that of the right to reintegration … According to the proven data which we have to hand, Johnny Depp has not been arrested, charged nor convicted of any form of assault or violence against any woman.”
Reception to the award announcement was mixed on social media, with some Twitter users condemning the choice while many expressed support for Depp.