(JTA) — Leaders of the Czech Jewish community criticized a local film festival’s decision to honor actor and director Mel Gibson.
Gibson is due to receive a lifetime achievement award Friday at the Karlovy Vary film festival.
But the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities said in a statement Thursday that Gibson was unworthy of the honor both because of a 2006 drunken anti-Semitic rant and because of his controversial 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ,” which some critics had called anti-Semitic.
The federation called the film “one of the most offensive movies ever shot” because of “classic stereotypes” about Jews, which may serve to “justify anti-Jewish hatred.”
Uljana Donatova, spokeswoman for the festival, held in the western spa city, said organizers respect the federation’s opinion, “but we are only assessing Mel Gibson’s career as a filmmaker,” she told the French news agency AFP.
The organizers of the 49th edition of the festival, which runs from Friday to July 12, will also award a lifetime achievement award to U.S. filmmaker William Friedkin, known for his thriller “The Exorcist.”