The director will also present a screening of Costa Gavras' classic 'Z' at the coastal city of Jeddah next month.
Oliver Stone will serve as jury president of the international competition at the inaugural Red Sea Film Festival, set to take place in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah next month.
The Platoon and Wall Street director will oversee a jury that will be focused on "original, daring productions by emerging and established voices," the festival said, adding that there would be an emphasis on features from the Arab world and the "Global South," meaning emerging markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The jury will hand out a number of Yusr Awards — named after the black coral formations found in the Red Sea — and topped by the Golden Yusr for best feature film, which comes with a $100,000 prize.
"We are most pleased to have Oliver Stone leading our jury," said festival director Mahmoud Sabbagh. "Penning Scarface and Midnight Express, directing Platoon and Natural Born Killers, to name a few, he cherishes originality, craft and creativity, values at the heart of the Red Sea Film Festival. For a new breed of filmmakers competing for the Yusr awards, his watchful eye and sense of authorship will be inspirational."
Stone will also present a classic film that inspired him, Costa Gavras' Z.
The festival has also unveiled its opening night film in Saudi feature The Book of Sun, directed by the Godus Brothers and set in 2010 just as young Saudis were becoming some of the biggest YouTube stars in the Arab world.
Everything is delayed, canceled, or on hold at the moment due to the coronavirus COVID-19, which means that film festivals are having to make some tough choices. Cannes is postponed. SXSW was canceled, but they recently announced they would try to put together an online film festival with Amazon Prime Video. TIFF has yet to make a decision one way or another, but festival runners Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey mentioned last week that they were considering a potential digital festival. Digital film festivals are a distinct possibility in several locations, but there’s one fest that has flat-out refused to go digital: the Venice Film Festival.
With the coronavirus continuing to upend film festivals across the globe, some are wondering if virtual, online film festivals might be the solution for the time being. And while some fests – SXSW, TIFF – are open to this idea, the Venice Film Festival isn’t having it. Speaking with Variety, a Venice spokesperson said: “The Venice Film Festival cannot be replaced by an online event,” adding that “there is obviously the possibility that we use technology for some initiatives, [but] it’s too early for this to be decided.”
The Venice Film Festival is supposed to run in September, and as of now, everyone involved with the fest is still operating under the assumption that the festival is still on. Organizers have put out a call for “projects for its Final Cut in Venice co-production workshop dedicated to supporting works from the Middle East and Africa, currently scheduled to be held during the fest.”
Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera was quoted as saying he and his team “are working just the same as in past years” and that they “cannot provide specifics about the future.” The only thing they can confirm is that no matter what happens, the festival will not go digital. While some are more than happy to accept the idea of a digital festival – no travel fees! – not everyone is okay with the idea. For one thing, if a film without distribution were to debut digitally and then immediately be pirated, it would hurt its chances at eventual purchase. Plus, many filmmakers and producers long for that festival buzz that can only be achieved by screening titles for a live audience.
But we remain in uncharted territory for the moment, and it’s unclear just when the coronavirus situation will end. As of now, Italy remains in strict lockdown, and if that continues into the fall, there’s very little chance the Venice Film Festival will go off as planned.