A massive line up of guests has been announced for the 2017 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF)

The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) kicks off next week, and along for the ride will be a slew of special guests for a run of red carpet events, Q&As and more. It all kicks off on 3rd August when the cast and crew of the MIFF Premiere Film Fund supported Jungle will walk Grey Goose’s blue carpet along with a host of other filmmakers and special guests. This includes Greg McLean, Director; Yossi Ghinsberg, real-life survivor; Joel Jackson, Actor; and Lily Sullivan, Actress.

After the opening night, over 350 films play across the next 17 days. Highlights of the guests attending MIFF along with their films, include the cast and crew of Ben Elton’s Three Summers, the creative team behind That’s Not Me, and the cast and crews of GlitchThe Butterfly Tree, Top of the Lake, and Ali’s Wedding. And along the way there’s a who’s-who list of Australian talent.

Here’s the full lineup:

Jennifer Brea, Director, UNREST and UNREST VR 

Unrest takes an intimate and stirring look at the lives of those suffering from the widely misunderstood chronic fatigue syndrome. Unrest VR is a complimentary expansion piece using interactive virtual reality technology. Jennifer Brea was an active Harvard PhD student, when suddenly her body starts failing her. Hoping to shed light on her strange symptoms, she films the darkest moments as she is derailed by M.E.

Hugh Brunt, Conductor, MIFF X MSO: THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Hugh Brunt, 31-year old co-Artistic Director and co-Principal Conductor of the London Contemporary Orchestra, who will be conducting the MSO over Paul Thomas Anderson’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Hugh conducted the string and choir arrangements on Radiohead’s new album A Moon Shaped Pool and has collaborated with Beck, Imogen Heap, Belle & Sebastian, Actress, Matthew Herbert, Boiler Room and Foals.

Peter Mackie Burns, Director, DAPHNE

Compared by many critics to Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret (and by others to Lena Dunham’s Girls), Burns’ nuanced debut feature is a character study about a dissatisfied young woman in present-day London that balances complex comedy and disarming drama.

Luca Guadagnino, Director, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME 

Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love, A Bigger Splash) worked with co-writer James Ivory to adapt André Acimen’s novel, a sensuous story of first love and the end of adolescence.

Tom Zubrycki, Director, HOPE ROAD

Australia’s foremost documentary portraitist, Tom Zubrycki (Molly & Mobarak, Bran Nue Dae), follows refugee Zacharia Machiek from Sydney to Sudan as he dedicates his life to building a school in the village he left behind.

Ana Kokkinos, Director, ONLY THE BRAVE and BLESSED

Ana Kokkinos’ uncompromising debut feature ONLY THE BRAVE still shocks with its tale of teenage girls dealing with their daily trauma via wild behaviour and pyromania.

Adapted from the critically acclaimed play Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? the MIFF Premiere Fund-supported BLESSED (1999) is a beautiful and intensely moving film featuring a star-studded ensemble cast that includes Frances O’Connor (who won the AFI Award for Best Actress for her extraordinary performance here), Miranda Otto, Deborra-Lee Furness, William McInnes, Sophie Lowe, Harrison Gilbertson and Reef Ireland.

Ann Turner, Screenwriter/Director CELIA (Melbourne based)
Rebecca Smart, Actress, CELIA

The debut feature film (directed 1989) by director Ann Turner (Dallas Doll, MIFF 1994) and recipient of an AFI acting award for Victoria Longley’s supporting role, Celia is a classic – albeit far from conventional – Australian horror movie; one whose themes of suburban prejudice and dark prepubescent imagination still resonate nearly three decades on.

Jane Campion, Writer/Director

Ariel Kleiman, Director
Gerard Lee, Writer
Alice Englert, Actress

Ewen Leslie, Actor

A very special screening of the much-anticipated new instalment of Jane Campion’s (An Angel at My Table, The Piano) award-winning series, starring Elisabeth Moss, Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie and Nicole Kidman. Co-written by Gerard Lee, MIFF also welcomes stars Ewen Leslie (The Daughter, MIFF 2015) and Alice Englert (director, The Boyfriend Game, MIFF 2016), along with co-director Ariel Kleiman (Partisan).

Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Director, BASTARDY and THE SILENT EYE 

Director Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s features (Hail, MIFF 2011 and Ruin, 2013) have placed him at the vanguard of Australian filmmaking. Playing as part of the Premiere Fund retrospective, his 2008 feature documentary, BASTARDY, captured Melbourne’s bohemian Aboriginal elder, Jack Charles, warts and all. His new feature THE SILENT EYE bears witness to an intimate, wordless ballet between free jazz pioneer Cecil Taylor and Butoh dance artist Min Tanaka.

Daniel Borgman, Director, LOVING PIA

Documentary and fiction blur together in Daniel Borgman’s (The Weight of Elephants) affecting, winsome tale of a 60-year-old intellectually disabled woman’s search for love and safety.

Florian Habicht, Director, SPOOKERS

Set in a former psychiatric hospital outside Auckland, where visitors gather to be petrified by a group of deformed ghouls at the most successful haunted attraction in the Southern Hemisphere. This is Director Florian Habicht’s third feature film at the Festival (Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets, MIFF 2014; Love Story, MIFF 2012).

Francis Lee, Director, GOD’S OWN COUNTRY

Lee’s feature debut captures the quiet yearning of forbidden romance with a documentary-like depiction of British rural life that subverts the familiar path taken by queer love stories. Director Francis Lee won the Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema (Dramatic) Best Director Award, and the Teddy Jury Award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Slavko Martinov, Director, PECKING ORDER

NZ-based Slavko Martinov’s second film is this entertaining flockumentary uncovers a cutthroat world of passion, obsession and power struggles amongst the members of the 148-year-old Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club.


An extraordinary first-hand account of the international battle to reclaim the artwork and heritage of Albert Namatjira, one of Australia’s most important Indigenous figures. A captivating story of Australian race relations. Lenie is Albert Namatjira’s granddaughter, and she also paints in the tradition of her father Oscar and grandfather.


Steve Kilbey is frontman of Oz rock pioneers The Church, and has been one of Australia’s most prolific and influential musicians. Over 40 years he’s released more than 750 songs across almost 50 albums, earning himself endless accolades and a place in the ARIA Hall of Fame. From one of our foremost film chroniclers of Australian rock, Mike Brook (Don’t Throw Stones, MIFF 2014), comes the warts-and-all tale of one of our most talented, troubled rock’n’roll legends.

Elias Anton, Actor, AUSTRALIA DAY

Set over a sweltering Australia Day in Brisbane, Kriv Stenders’ latest feature (The Principal, MIFF 2015; Red Dog, MIFF 2011) offers a sprawling vision of our nation that’s conflicted and provocative: a multicultural melting pot that’s boiling close to catastrophe. Star Elias Anton was the star of Matchbox Pictures, Barracuda.

Robert Forster, Subject, THE GO-BETWEENS: RIGHT HERE

Robert Forster is co-founder of The Go-Betweens, Australia’s original indie rock trailblazers. This is their incredible, tragic story – told in their own words, by director Kriv Stenders (The Principal, MIFF 2015; Red Dog, MIFF 2011).

Susan Lambert, Director, ON GUARD

Billed as a girls’ own adventure and made with mostly women behind the camera, On Guard (1983) is a feminist heist thriller starring Liddy Clark. Director Susan Lambert went on to make acclaimed documentaries including Tokyo Bound: Bondage Mistresses of Japan (MIFF 2001) and Tyke Elephant Outlaw(MIFF 2015).

Luke Shanahan, Director, RABBIT
Adelaide Clemens, Actress, RABBIT

The Great Gatsby’s Adelaide Clemens plays identical twins linked by more than just DNA in this uniquely stylish psychological thriller. Luke Shanahan’s debut feature is supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund.

Naina Sen, Director, THE SONG KEEPERS, Plus 32 member Indigenous choir

In the central desert region around Hermannsburg, west of Alice Springs, a hidden 140-year musical legacy of ancient Aboriginal languages and German baroque hymns is being preserved by four generations of song women who form the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir. Documentary

filmmaker Naina Sen (projection/installation artist for Gurrumul’s live shows, and associate producer and cinematographer for ABC’s Australian Story profile on Gurrumul, You’re the Voice) documents the Choir’s historic tour of Germany to bring the hymns back to their homeland. Supported by the MIFF Premiere Film Fund.

Jeffrey Walker, Director
Osamah Sami, Writer/Actor
Andrew Knight, Writer
Helena Sawires, Actress

Sex, lies and Qu’ranic scripture collide on the streets of Melbourne in Osamah Sami’s sweet, funny and (unfortunately) true tale of the lengths one man will go to find love – and avoid disappointing his very Muslim dad. Winner of Best Original Screenplay at the Australian Writers’ Guild Awards and based on the real-life experience of lead actor/co-writer Osamah Sami’s ill-fated marriage, Ali’s Wedding is the affectionate and heartfelt feature film debut from TV-director Jeffrey Walker (Jack Irish: Bad Debts, Miff 2012). Osamah Sami (actor, writer, director, poet and stand up comedian), was born in war-torn Iran to Iraqi parents. His critically acclaimed memoir Good Muslim Boy was the Winner of the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, and was also Highly Commended at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Walker and Sami are joined by actress Helena Sawires and writer Andrew Knight (Hacksaw Ridge, Jack Irish).

Djalu Gurruwiwi, Subject/Band, WESTWIND: DJALU’S LEGACY
Ben Strunin, Director, WESTWIND: DJALU’S LEGACY

Djalu Gurruwiwi, an ageing Yolngu elder and master Yidaki (didgeridoo) player, is a custodian of his people’s ancient Songlines, which have stored his clan’s Knowledge, Culture and Country since the birth of time. When Djalu breaks with tradition in an effort to save the Songlines, world-famous musician Gotye becomes an unexpected family member and helps amplify the songs to the world. Director Ben Strunin spent more than five years documenting Djalu’s journey for his debut feature documentary.

Anthony Lister, Subject, HAVE YOU SEEN THE LISTERS?
Eddie Martin, Director, HAVE YOU SEEN THE LISTERS?

From award-winning filmmaker Eddie Martin (All This Mayhem, Lionel) comes an up-to-the-minute snapshot into the life and creative processes of outspoken ‘visual freedom fighter’ Anthony Lister, Australia’s most renowned street artist.

Gabe Klinger, Director, PORTO

Executively produced by Jim Jarmusch, Porto is a ravishing ode to the vagaries of love and time presented in multiple gauges – Super 8, 16mm and breathtaking 35mm. This is Brazilian Gabe Klinger’s first feature following his revered documentary Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater played (MIFF ’13).

Sam Voutas, Director, KING OF PEKING

Australian director Sam Voutas heads up an entirely Chinese production in the screwball dramedy King of Peking, about a father-and-son (DVD) pirate team.

Wendall Thomas

Screenwriter, script editor and consultant to companies including Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Universal, Showtime, PBS, RKO, A&E, NBC and Scottish Screen.

Wendall Thomas returns with her popular series, WENDALL THOMAS TALKS SCRIPTS, unlocking the secrets of film writing with a series of four stand-alone all-day seminars


Chief executive of Film London, and producer of another series of his acclaimed Illustrated Film Talks, this year focusing on the Hollywood Golden Age and four legendary actresses, Gloria Grahame, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and Judy Garland.

Gregory Erdstein, Screenwriter/Director, THAT’S NOT ME (Melb based)
Alice Foulcher, Screenwriter/Producer/Actress, THAT’S NOT ME (Melb based)

Made in Melbourne but reaching for Hollywood, That’s Not Me answers an important question: if your twin achieved your wildest dreams, what would you do? In their debut feature, writer/director Gregory Erdstein (co-director of the MIFF 2014 short film Two Devils, with Jonathan auf der Heide) and writer/star Alice Foulcher channel the Aussie charm of Love and Other Catastrophes.

Andrew Grimmer, Contributing Artist, LOVING VINCENT (Melb based)

Inspired by a letter Vincent Van Gogh penned in the week before he died, in which he noted that “we cannot speak other than by our paintings”, Oscar-winning filmmaker Hugh Welchman (Peter and the Wolf) and Polish painter Dorota Kobiela decided to make a movie doing exactly that. Over 62,000 oil paintings and a cast including Chris O’Dowd and Saoirse Ronan bring the story of Vincent Van Gogh’s life and death to the screen in the world’s first feature-length painted animation.

From Three Summers:
Ben Elton, Writer/Director

Michael Caton, Actor
Magda Szubanski, Actress
Kelton Pell, Actor
Rebecca Breeds, Actress
Robert Sheehan, Actor

The multi-award-winning Ben Elton brings his trademark satirical wit to this of-the-moment, multi-story comedy set over three years at a fictional folk-music festival. Starring Robert Sheehan (perhaps best known as the lovable, foul-mouthed Nathan from UK series Misfits) alongside Home and Away alumnus Rebecca Breeds, playing young musicians falling in love alongside Michael Caton, Magda Szubanski (as radio personality ‘Queenie’), Deborah Mailman, Jacqueline McKenzie, John Waters, and the Bondi Hipsters’ Christiaan van Vuuren and Nick Boshier.

Nadia Tass, Director, THE BIG STEAL
Claudia Karvan, Actress, THE BIG STEAL

Following her smash-hit directorial debut Malcolm, Nadia Tass’ next big achievement was this early Ben Mendelsohn vehicle, an award-winning and iconically Melbourne teen caper also starring Claudia Karvan and Steve Bisley.

Gillian Armstrong, Director, HIGH TIDE and STARSTRUCK

In HIGH TIDE Judy Davis and Claudia Karvan star in renowned director Gillian Armstrong’s award-winning beachside drama of a woman unknowingly rekindling ties with the daughter she left behind. STARSTRUCK is a colourful musical comedy which follows two teenagers in Sydney try to break into the music biz and save the family pub.

Jennifer Peedom, Director, MOUNTAIN

Award-winning Sherpa director Jennifer Peedom explores humanity’s captivation with the mountains in this unique cinematic and musical collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

From The Butterfly Tree:
Priscilla Cameron, Writer/Director
Melissa George, Actress
Ewen Leslie, Actor
Ed Oxenbould, Actor

Melissa George returns to Australia to star alongside Ewen Leslie (also in TOP OF THE LAKE: CHINA GIRL) and Ed Oxenbould (Paper Planes, Puberty Blues TV Series) in a visually sumptuous coming-of-age tale of love and loss tinged with magical realism.

Deborra-Lee Furness, Actress, SHAME

A pulsating, over-the-top action thriller with a decidedly feminist bent, Shame – directed by Steve Jodrell (His Master’s Ghost, MIFF 1990) – is a classic of 1980s Australian cinema. Deborra-Lee Furness’ performance as the film’s arse-kicking protagonist earning her best actress awards at both the Film Critics Circle of Australia and Seattle International Film Festival.

Claire Jager, GUARDIANS OF THE STRAIT Director/Producer 
Samantha Dinning, Cinematographer/Producer, GUARDIANS OF THE STRAIT

From acclaimed documentary-maker Claire Jager, GUARDIANS OF THE STRAIT is a fascinating exploration of the perilously narrow Strait of Bosphorus, and the almost unknown and unregulated issue of maritime traffic and its potentially disastrous consequences.

Luke Walker, Director, PACMEN

Australian filmmaker Luke Walker (Lasseter’s Bones, MIFF 2012) originally set out to make a film about the inner workings of a Presidential campaign, but soon realised the dark role of SuperPACs (secretive political action committees) was the real story of American politics.

Michael Chion, Composer/Filmmaker/Historian/Writer, MICHAEL CHION: THE AUDIO SPECTATOR 

World renowned experimental French composer, filmmaker and theorist Michel Chion (pronounced ‘Michelle Sheean’) will visit Australia for the first time with an historic and unlikely-to-be repeated concert and performative lecture at ACMI Cinemas. Chion is an Associate Professor at the University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle. His book L’audio-vision is considered by critics to be the definitive book on the relations between sound and image.

David Wenham, Director, ELLIPSIS  
Emily Barclay, Actress, ELLIPSIS and GLITCH 

Acclaimed actor David Wenham makes his feature directorial debut with a Before Sunrise-style, super-budget, Sydney-shot romance set to the distinctive sounds of Megan Washington. Ellipsis charts the sparks that fly between Viv (Please Like Me’s Emily Barclay) and Jasper (Benedict Samuel) one Sydney day.

Sami Saif, Director, THE ALLINS 
Anders Lofstedt, Cinematographer, THE ALLINS

GG Allin was the most outrageous musician to ever live but Saif’s documentary discovers a more nuanced subject through his mother Arleta, his brother Merle and the lunatics who loved him. Documentarian Sami Saif is joined by cinematographer Anders Lofstedt.

Anocha Suwichakornpong, Director/Writer, BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK 

Anocha Suwichakornpong is the Thai director of BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK, winner of the top prize at the 2016 Thai National Film Association Awards. Anocha is considered one of the ‘new voices’ of SE Asian cinema. Her film deals with the intersection of memory, politics and cinema, against the backdrop of the 1976 Thammasat University massacre.

Annie Goldson, Director, KIM DOTCOM:CAUGHT IN THE WEB 

In 2012, the capture of the Internet’s most wanted criminal launched a court case that divided the world. The latest film from director Annie Goldson (Brother Number One, MIFF 2011) examines everything from Dotcom’s extraordinary life story to broader questions about intellectual property in the age of the Internet.

Emma Freeman, Director
Louise Fox, Writer
Tony Ayres, Executive Producer
Emily Barclay, Actress

GLITCH introduced audiences to the fictional Victorian town of Yoorana where, one night, seven dead residents crawled out of their graves, in perfect health, bar their memories. MIFF offers an exclusive preview of the first two episodes in the second series.

The 2017 Melbourne International Film Festival runs 3 – 20 August.
Visit miff.com.au for full program information.


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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.