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Founded in 2019, the Red Sea Film Festival (RSIFF) in Saudi Arabia, although relatively new, is quickly becoming one of the most important film festivals in the Arab world — praised for showcasing diverse and innovative films.
For the festival’s upcoming edition, The Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann will lead the jury for the feature film competition. The festival will take place from November 30 to December 9 in Jeddah, and the jury will award prizes to 17 films from filmmakers in the Arab world, Asia, and Africa.
“As we work towards our third edition, we are delighted to welcome legendary award-winning director Baz Luhrmann as the head of the jury,” said Mohammed Al Turki, the Red Sea Festival’s CEO. He went on to call him a “pioneer of pop culture with incredible versatility across the creative fields.”
Luhrmann commented: “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.’ Since that time, I have had an abiding passion for the Arabian world.”
He expressed his excitement for the opportunity: “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.”
“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,” he added.
Luhrmann’s first major success was the 1992 film Strictly Ballroom. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning several awards. His 2001 musical film Moulin Rouge! was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Luhrmann won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for the film.
Luhrmann’s other films include Australia (2008), The Great Gatsby (2013), and Elvis (2022), all of which were critically and commercially successful.
“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 Luhrmann.