An­to­nio Banderas De­fends Spain at Na­tional Prize Cer­e­monya

La Semana - - FRONT PAGE / PORTADA -


An­to­nio Banderas on Satur­day picked up Spain’s high­est film honor, the Na­tional Film Award, at the San Se­bas­tian International Film Fes­ti­val and waded into the thorny is­sue of the banned ref­er­en­dum for in­de­pen­dence in Cat­alo­nia sched­uled for next week.

The ac­tor, who en­joys wide sup­port in Spain as a home­grown hero who has stayed true to his roots, re­ceived the award from Spain’s Cul­ture Min­is­ter Inigo Men­dez de Vigo dur­ing a week that has seen ten­sion es­ca­late in Spain’s north­east­ern re­gion, where lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are call­ing for a “self-rule” vote on Oct. 1 that Spain views as un­con­sti­tu­tional and il­le­gal.

Banderas spoke about the word “na­tional” with re­spect to the award’s name and in clear ref­er­ence to the con­tentious is­sue that has seen political brinks­man­ship lead to a sit­u­a­tion that threat­ens to di­vide the na­tion. He was clear in his sup­port against Cata­lan in­de­pen­dence.

“My own com­ing of age par­al­lels that of Spain, which as a coun­try passed from a dic­ta­tor­ship to a democ­racy,” said Banderas, re­fer­ring to the dic­ta­tor­ship of Gen. Fran­cisco Franco, which ended with his death in 1975. “I be­lieved then as I do now in the com­mon project that is called Spain.”

But it was af­ter he stepped down from the stage and spoke to a clus­ter of jour­nal­ists who asked him to elab­o­rate on his stance that Banderas spoke di­rectly about Cat­alo­nia, which the ac­tor com­pared to a film from Span­ish sur­re­al­ist Luis Gar­cia Ber­langa.

“Log­i­cally, vot­ing is one of the great con­cepts of democ­racy, but we shouldn’t for­get that it isn’t the only one," said Banderas. "There is also re­spect for the law, the rule of law, which is very im­por­tant. You could pro­pose ridicu­lous ref­er­en­dums like elim­i­nat­ing all those who are not our race. Would any­one call that democ­racy? Democ­racy is formed by many dif­fer­ent branches of one tree. We have to see that clearly.”

Tens of thou­sands protested in the streets of Barcelona, the cap­i­tal of the Cata­lan re­gion, af­ter po­lice raided lo­cal govern­ment of­fices there on a court-or­dered war­rant and con­fis­cated 10 mil­lion bal­lots and other elec­tion ma­te­rial, as well as ar­rest­ing a dozen Cata­lan of­fi­cials. The move was the most sig­nif­i­cant step Spain has taken to halt the vote that has been re­jected by the Con­sti­tu­tional court as il­le­gal.

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