Protests strain film-gov’t ties

Goya telecast highlights industry's anti-war slant

MADRID — Oscar organizers, take note: Spain’s 17th annual Goya Awards, held Feb. 1, set out to celebrate Spanish film, but ended up an antiwar rally that deepened the divide between Spain’s film industry and the government.

Director Alejandro Amenabar and thesps Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, who won the actor award for “Los lunes al sol” (Mondays in the Sun), were among the many who sported “No War” badges and lambasted war with Iraq.

“The government should listen to the Spanish people,” Bardem said in his acceptance speech. “They say no to war!”

The protests hit where it hurt. Prime minister Jose Maria Aznar’s ruling conservatives back President Bush’s stand against Iraq. But 81% of Spaniards oppose war. Furthermore, the Goyas were broadcast live during primetime on pubcaster RTVE.

In 3½ hours, the Goya ceremony achieved more broadcast criticism of Spain’s ruling Partido Popular than the opposition socialists have in 3½ months.

“I thought that RTVE would pull the plug and start playing military marches and a test card,” one viewer says.

But the mud really began to fly Feb. 3, when Eduardo Campoy, prexy of Spain’s powerful Fapae producers lobby, dubbed the Goyas “absolutely shameless” and called for the dismissal of actress Marisa Paredes as president of the Spanish Academy. He threatened to resign if Fapae members do not back him.

The next day, academy members closed ranks. “The presenters and winners exercised a fundamental right to freedom of speech,” said Goya-nominated helmer Pedro Almodovar (“Talk to Her”). He added he would not be dismayed if Campoy were to resign.

Campoy is a friend of Aznar’s and his words can be seen as an attempt to mend bridges between Spanish pic producers and the government.

One week earlier, culture minister Pilar del Castillo said she was considering hiking tax breaks for film productions from 5% to 20% and introducing other financial benefits for filmmakers. However, during the Goya ceremony, she reportedly told Campoy to forget more production coin.

It appears the tacit truce between the left-leaning film industry and right-of-center government has ended.

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