19th July 2024
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Spanish film director denies accusations of sexual violence by three women

Three women have accused Spanish film director Carlos Vermut of sexual violence in an investigation published  in Spain’s leading daily newspaper El Pais.

None of the women, however, all of whom either worked in or studied the audiovisual industry, have filed complaints directly against Vermut – reportedly for fear of the effect it would have on their careers, the paper said.

Vermut, whose real name is Carlos Lopez del Rey, is a rising star in Spain’s independent cinema. In 2014, he won two top prizes at the San Sebastian Film Festival for Magical Girl, his second feature. In the last edition of the Goya Awards, Spain’s equivalent of the Oscars, he competed for the Award for Best Director.

Vermut has said that his relationships with his accusers were consensual.

The alleged sexual abuse happened between May 2014 and February 2022, the paper reported, adding that two of the women were younger than the film-maker who is 43 years old.

One of the three women told El Pais how she had met the director in a bar. But what started as a consensual relationship with him degenerated into one in which he forced her to have unprotected sex him, she alleged.

Another of the women alleged that she had been subjected to frightening rough sex to which she had not consented. The third woman, a student of cinema, accused Vermut of having tried to force her to have sex with him.

The media outlet claimed it has obtained sworn statements from the three women. It also said it had emails, photos, and WhatsApp conversations with the director and the people around him, as well as interviews with 31 workers in the film industry.

All three women asked to remain anonymous in the El Pais report. Vermut, interviewed three times by El Pais, has denied all the accusations against him.

He said he was not ‘aware of having practised sexual violence against any woman’, although he had engaged in consensual rough sex.

‘I have always practiced rough sex in a consensual manner, because I believe that consent is very important,’ he said. ‘It’s another thing if the person … if she later felt bad — and maybe, at the time, was afraid to say it — I can’t know that.’

‘I would like it to be published that I’ve had many relationships of many types, always wanting the other person to be okay,’ he added. ‘And I think that having had a promiscuous sexual life — and having had many different types of sex — can lead you to situations like these.’

The allegations have sparked outrage on social media in Spain.

‘All my love and solidarity to the victims,’ wrote cinema producer Agustin Almodovar, brother of award-winning director Pedro Almodovar, on X (formerly Twitter).

The left-wing party Sumar also posted a message of support on X.

‘Many thanks to the women who had the courage to tell their stories. You are not alone,’ the party, which is part of the ruling coalition alongside the PSOE socialists, wrote.

Since the start of the #MeToo movement in 2017, a string of major figures from the world of cinema have been accused of sexual violence.

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