- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2014

Czech Jews are outraged after American actor Mel Gibson was awarded with a lifetime achievement award at the state-sponsored International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary.

Mr. Gibson picked up the Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema on July 4 during the festival’s opening, The Guardian reported.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic objected to the award, arguing that “The Passion of the Christ,” directed by Mr. Gibson in 2004, portrays Jews as “evil and bloodthirsty.”

“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 said in the letter to the festival, which was posted on its website, Bloomberg reported.

The Karlovy Vary Festival acknowledged receiving the Federation’s letter and said it respected its opinions.

“The award is to recognize Gibson’s film-making skills and his career,” festival spokeswoman Uljana Donatova told Bloomberg. “We don’t feel that we’re entitled to comment on the rest. ‘The Passion of the Christ’ won’t be screened at the festival.”

It was not clear if the Federation also took issue with Mr. Gibson’s widely publicized anti-Semitic rant in 2006 after he was arrested for drunk driving in Malibu.

The actor told reporters Friday that he was “honored, astounded” and “charmed” by his reception in the Czech Republic, The Guardian reported.

“Telling stories is the real gratification,” he said. “When you see a child’s eyes light up, or when you see an audience respond. I saw people, the general public, out there tonight and at some point they were moved by something I did, and this is most gratifying, and it humbles me to think that what I have to offer, the meager thing, full of all the actor’s insecurity, all the artist’s insecurity, those things are actually received here and there, and in no small measure here.”