Saudi Arabian Director Haifaa Al-Mansour to Head Venice Jury For Debut Films

Haifaa Al-Mansour

The Luigi Delaurentiis prize, which includes a $100,000 cash award, is given each year to the best debut film screening in one of Venice's competitive sections.

ROME – Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first female film director of international note to emerge from Saudi Arabia, will head the jury that will award the Luigi De Laurentiis prize, given to the best debut film at the Venice Film Festival.

Al-Mansour’s own debut film Wadjda -- which tells the tale of a young girl efforts to earn money to buy a green bicycle she has her eye on -- won three secondary prizes in Venice last year before going on to earn accolades elsewhere on the international film festival circuit.

The Luigi De Laurentiis jury, made up of seven industry figures, will award a prize to a debut film screening in the festival’s main international competition or one of the competitive sidebars. In addition to the recognition from the award, the prize includes a $100,000 cash prize, spit between the director and the producer. Rules do not permit split awards.

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The prize is named for famed Italian film producer Luigi De Laurentiis, who died in 1992.

Küf (Mold), a drama from director Ali Aydin about the struggles of a widow soon-to-be pensioner that screened in Venice’s Critic’s Week sidebar, won the Luigi De Laurentiis honor a year ago.

The 70th edition of the Venice event -- the world's oldest film festival -- takes place Aug. 28-Sept. 7.

Twitter: @EricJLyman