The Czech Jewish community has criticised the Karlovy Vary film festival Thursday for its decision to hand its top honour to Mel Gibson, director of "The Passion of the Christ".

The 58-year-old who shot to fame in the "Mad Max" and "Braveheart" blockbusters is due to receive the Crystal Globe for lifetime's achievement at the Czech festival on Friday.

The reputation of the Hollywood A-lister has plunged since he was caught on tape making an anti-Semitic rant in 2006.

The Czech Federation of Jewish Communities said in a statement his 2004 movie depicting Jesus Christ's final hours was "one of the most offensive movies ever shot".

It accused the film of propagating "classic stereotypes" about Jews, claiming they were exclusively responsible for Jesus's death and warned it could be used to "justify anti-Jewish hatred".

Uljana Donatova, spokeswoman for the event held in the western spa city, said organisers respect the federation's opinion.

"But we are only assessing Mel Gibson's career as a filmmaker," she told AFP.

The organisers of the 49th edition of the festival, which runs from Friday to July 12, will also award the Crystal Globe to US filmmaker William Friedkin, known for his thriller "The Exorcist".

Last year nearly 130,000 cinemagoers attended the event.