How Hollywood 'is turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses' - ... trends now
Some of Hollywood's biggest stars have been accused of turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia's 'egregious' human rights abuses by going to a film festival in the Kingdom.
The festival, which is run by a foundation chaired by the Saudi culture minister, is said to have offered stars as much as $1million each for their appearances.
It was confirmed last night that even Gwyneth Paltrow, who essentially retired from the film business over a decade ago and has made fortune from her wellness brand Goop, is set to attend.
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
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
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'.
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.
Critics regard the 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. It is understood that Depp was not paid for his attendance.
A spokesman for Paltrow did not respond to requests for comment about her fee for attending.
Speaking at the festival on 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