The Red Sea International Film Festival (Red Sea IFF) has unveiled that writer, director and producer Baz Luhrmann (Elvis, Moulin Rouge) will preside over the festival’s features competition jury this year.
The third edition of the festival will take place Nov. 30-Dec. 9 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on the Eastern shore of the Red Sea.
In the fest’s Red Sea: Features competition, 17 features will be selected to “showcase the most compelling, unique and impressive work from the past year, with the winners being selected by Luhrmann and the highly esteemed jury to receive the coveted Yusr Awards,” organizers said. In 2022, the Golden Yusr was awarded to Hanging Gardens, directed by Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji.
“As a child in the local cinema that we ran near the tiny country town where I grew up, I was mesmerized by the powerful historical and physical landscapes of Lawrence of Arabia,” said Luhrmann. “Since that time, I have had an abiding passion for the Arabian world, but after visiting Saudi Arabia, I felt truly inspired by the remarkable young filmmaking talent coming up across the region and to see how they are now capturing the attention of the global film community.”
He added: “It’s an honor to be presiding over this year’s Red Sea International Film Festival’s Jury, alongside leading and emerging lights in the industry, and to be part of the evolution of change that is happening through cinema across the Arab region, Asia and Africa. Since the early days of my career, I have experienced the power of storytelling and festivals to open doors and forge bridges between artists and across cultures. I look forward to celebrating both emerging talent and the incredible established auteurs from the region in the vibrant, diverse and distinctive cinematic offering that the Festival is becoming renowned for presenting in Jeddah.”
Said Mohammed Al Turki; CEO of the Red Sea IFF: “As we work towards our third edition, we are delighted to welcome legendary award-winning director Baz Luhrmann as the head of the Jury. Baz is a pioneer of pop culture with incredible versatility across the creative fields, and it’s a great honor to have him head our third edition jury presidency. We look forward to announcing the films and celebrating the outstanding filmmaking taking place across the Arab world, Asia and Africa.”
Calling Luhrmann a “legendary Academy Award-nominated auteur,” organizers highlight that he is known for “being a master storyteller across film, opera, theatre and music, with his most recent film Elvis (2022) becoming the second-highest-grossing musical biopic of all time globally,” according to an announcement. “Luhrmann’s critically acclaimed filmography includes double Academy Award-winning The Great Gatsby (2013), Strictly Ballroom (1992), Romeo + Juliet (1996), double Academy Award–winning Moulin Rouge (2001) and sweeping period epic Australia (2008).”