Gwyneth Paltrow at centre of Saudi Arabia 'arts-washing' row: Fury as ... trends now

Gwyneth Paltrow at centre of Saudi Arabia 'arts-washing' row: Fury as ... trends now
Gwyneth Paltrow at centre of Saudi Arabia 'arts-washing' row: Fury as Hollywood ... trends now

Gwyneth Paltrow at centre of Saudi Arabia 'arts-washing' row: Fury as Hollywood ... trends now

Gwyneth Paltrow – who essentially retired from the film business over a decade ago – is at the centre of an 'arts-washing' controversy after agreeing to fly to Saudi Arabia for a controversial film festival.

The Red Sea Film Festival is said to have offered 'talent' a cool $1 million each to appear and has so far attracted actors Will Smith, Sharon Stone and Johnny Depp to the red carpet.

Oscar-winner Paltrow, 51, is the latest and most surprising A-list signing, particularly as outside of her appearances as Pepper Potts in Marvel films she's not had a leading role in a film since Mortdecai in 2015.

She said in an interview in 2020 that she had 'hit the bullseye' aged 26 by winning an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love and then realised that she didn't love acting 'all that much'. She has since made a fortune with her Goop wellness brand.

A spokesman for the festival yesterday confirmed that Paltrow is to appear 'In Conversation' with Jomana Al Rashid, the CEO of Arab News on Wednesday night.

Festival: Gwyneth Paltrow is at the centre of an 'arts-washing' controversy after agreeing to fly to Saudi Arabia for a controversial film festival

Festival: Gwyneth Paltrow is at the centre of an 'arts-washing' controversy after agreeing to fly to Saudi Arabia for a controversial film festival

Red carpet: Johnny Depp attends the Opening Night screening of 'HWJN' at the Red Sea International Film Festival 2023

Red carpet: Johnny Depp attends the Opening Night screening of 'HWJN' at the Red Sea International Film Festival 2023

Actor: Will Smith speaks on stage at In Conversation with Will Smith during this year's Red Sea International Film Festival

Actor: Will Smith speaks on stage at In Conversation with Will Smith during this year's Red Sea International Film Festival

Event: Sharon Stone attends the Women In Cinema Gala during the Red Sea International Film Festival 2023 on December 01, 2023

Event: Sharon Stone attends the Women In Cinema Gala during the Red Sea International Film Festival 2023 on December 01, 2023

The Festival in Jeddah is run by a foundation chaired by the Saudi culture minister.

Critics regard it as a part of the regime's 'arts-washing' and 'sports-washing' in which glamorous international events are held in order to distract from human rights abuses.

Homosexuality remains a crime punishable by death in the kingdom and widespread outrage greeted the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, by agents of the Saudi government at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

On Friday, the Puck news website ran an item about 'the Saudi's blood red carpet' claiming: '$1 million was the standing offer that went around the talent agencies for major stars to walk the carpet… Will Smith may even have gotten more than that.'

Depp appears as he has a long-standing relationship with the festival as its foundation were among the backers of his comeback film Jeanne Du Barry.

A spokesman for Paltrow did not respond to requests for comment about her fee for attending.

Speaking at the festival last night (Saturday), Oscar-winner Will Smith – rebuilding his reputation after the Oscars slap in 2022, said he was keen to work in the Kingdom, saying he had ambitions to make: 'A movie with Denzel – yes! A movie with Denzel Washington in Saudi!'

He added: 'You know, I think that right now the thing I'm really excited about is the transfer of knowledge. I really want to teach. I really want to teach

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