The reach of the Panama Papers — the massive leak of 11.5m files that exposed offshore bank accounts set up through the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm and led to the resignation of the Icelandic Prime Minister — reaches beyond global leaders into the realm of celebrities and artists. With people like Simon Cowell and Jackie Chan among those who’d worked with Mossack Fonseca in setting up offshore companies (though the Guardian, in discussing these celebrities, notes that as of now, “there is nothing to suggest that any of those named below sheltered, or sought to shelter, money or assets offshore to avoid tax or for any unlawful purpose”), we’re seeing how these leaks might impact culture as well as politics.
Perhaps the biggest story is that, as the New York Times reports, director Pedro Almodóvar has cancelled the planned publicity events for his upcoming film, Julieta, after he and his brother, Agustín Almodóvar, were named in the Panama Papers for the way the they ran their production company — El Deseo — in the early 90s.
As with many of the people named, the Times emphasizes that it isn’t known whether there was actually anything illegal whatsoever about the deals in which they were involved. What’s known is that, according to BBC, their production company El Deseo worked with law firm Mossack Fonseca (the company central to the leaks) to gain control of an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands. Agustín, who co-produces with Pedro, took responsibility, saying that he’s been the one dealing with management of their production company while Pedro’s responsibilities are creative. He said:
I profoundly regret the damage caused to the public image of my brother, triggered only and exclusively by my lack of experience in the first years of advancing our family company.
Indeed, their appearance within the Panama Papers is linked to a very early point in the brothers’ careers — between 1991 and 1994. Agustín says the company “was left to die without having been active as it did not fit with [their] way of working,” and that it was “the recommendation of [his] advisers in view of a possible international expansion of our company.”
Apparently Pedro Almodóvar was absent from the Barcelona premiere of the film and plans to likewise skip events in Madrid, canceling both interviews and phone calls for (reasonable) fear that this would be the media’s key concern rather than his film.
Julieta is being released in Spain on Friday (it does not yet have a US release date), and is based on Alice Munro’s short stories; it follows a woman named Julieta whose daughter ran away from her when she was 18, who’s remained a mystery ever since, and who Julieta begins to realize may have always been a mystery to her.