PARIS (AFP) - The Cannes film festival was under pressure on Monday (May 13) to withdraw an honorary Palme d'Or it is to award to veteran French star Alain Delon because of his alleged violence towards women.
The row came on the eve of the opening of the world's biggest film festival.
Last year, the festival vowed that there "must be zero tolerance with sexual harassment" amid red carpet protests led by Cate Blanchett of more than 80 Hollywood stars and women directors.
Lobby group Women And Hollywood founder Melissa Silverstein said Delon "has publicly admitted to slapping women".
Delon, 83, made the confession in November when he was questioned on French television about claims of domestic violence from his estranged son Alain-Fabien Delon.
"If a slap is macho, then I am macho," he said.
His son said the star of such screen classics as The Leopard and Le Samourai beat his mother, breaking eight ribs and her nose twice.
His other son, Anthony Delon, posted this month to confirm that he was locked in a cage with dogs by his father "to toughen me up" when he was a child.
But Cannes director Thierry Fremaux came to Delon's defence on Monday, telling AFP that "it's complicated to judge someone through today's lens, and judge things that were said and that happened years ago".
"We're not giving him the Nobel Peace Prize."
Earlier on Monday, the festival unveiled a huge poster of a youthful Delon which will be draped above the red carpet on Sunday (May 19) when he receives the honour.
It pictures the actor in his breakthrough 1960 film, Purple Noon, where he played a devastatingly handsome serial killer.