Leaders of the Czech Jewish community have protested at the lifetime achievement award presented to actor Mel Gibson at the opening of the 2014 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Friday.
Czech Federation of Jewish Communities officials objected to the honor, claiming Gibson's 2004 movie "The Passion of the Christ" portrayed Jews as "evil and blood-thirsty," Bloomberg reported.
In 2006, Oscar winner Gibson was forced to apologize for anti-Semitic comments he made to a police officer who arrested him for drink driving in Malibu, California, The movie star and director accepted his remarks were "vitriolic and harmful."
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"By granting this award, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival becomes another of the very arguable platforms that are gradually changing the atmosphere of our country from a traditional, relatively tolerant society into one where space is given to hostility, xenophobia, and anti-Semitic ideas," the federation wrote in a letter to the festival organizers.
The letter was sent before the award presentation and posted on the Federation's website.
Festival bosses responded by stating the award would be presented to Gibson in recognition of his "filmmaking skills and his career."