CULTURE

Culture minister blames busy schedule for Goya Awards no-show

José Ignacio Wert will not attend annual Spanish cinema celebration after jeers at precursor event

Last year's Goyas ceremony with José Ignacio Wert (r) next to Cinema Academy president Enrique Gonzalez Macho.
Last year's Goyas ceremony with José Ignacio Wert (r) next to Cinema Academy president Enrique Gonzalez Macho. Gorka Lejarcegi / EL PAÍS

Leading figures of the Spanish cinema world have reacted with a mixture of anger and resignation to the decision of Education and Culture Minister José Ignacio Wert not to attend the annual Goyas ceremony on Sunday. The minister cited a “scheduling conflict” as his excuse due to the fact that he has to fly to London early the following morning. Wert made the announcement late on Thursday, just three days before the awards ceremony.

“It’s proof that [his position] is indefensible. He cannot bring himself to stand before us and say he is defending Spanish cinema when he is not,” said Álvaro Longoria, producer of Alacrán enamorado, which is nominated for four Goya awards.

Wert has become the focal point of protests across the country against the Popular Party (PP) government’s controversial reform of the education system and is the subject of jeers and whistles practically everywhere he goes. The premiere of Mario Gas’s recent staging of Julius Caesar was punctuated by a chorus of catcalls for the attending minister.

But in the case of Spanish cinema, he is also taking the flak in his position as culture minister for decisions – and comments – made by Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro, who justified a huge hike in value-added tax on cinema tickets, from eight percent to 21 percent, by stating “the quality of the films” was the real reason for the slump in box office sales.

Adding to the disaffection of the industry toward the minister, Wert appeared at the Forqué awards ceremony, a precursor to the Goyas, where he was again roundly booed after starting that “in the next few weeks there will be good news for Spanish cinema, which has a great future.”

“His excuse is pathetic. After telling us we could expect good news he disappears. What is he trying to tell us, that the news is worse than we thought?” said Eduard Fernández, a nominee for the Best Actor award.

“It’s obvious what’s happening here,” said a heavyweight in the sector who preferred to remain anonymous. “The jeers he got, through his own doing, the other day at the Forqué awards are the real reason for this.”

Wert also gave the Gaudí Awards for Catalan cinema a wide berth on February 3.