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Michelle Carey close up MIFF 2017
Photograph: Graham DenholmMIFF director Michelle Carey

The full program of Melbourne International Film Festival 2017 is here
Written by
Nick Dent

Director Michelle Carey has unveiled the full program for MIFF 2017, which kicks off on August 3. Just revealed is a focus on pioneering Australian women directors, a bunch of great forgotten sci-fi movies (including the crazy-ass line-up for the Overnight Sci-Fi Marathon), a Sally Potter retrospective, and Ben Elton's new Australian movie – among other highlights. 

Time Out spoke to Carey about this evening's big reveal.

Michelle, we’re living in times when science fiction is everyday reality, so it’s apt to see your Focus on Sci-fi retrospective this year. 
Sci-fi is something [MIFF programmer] Al Cossar and I have been wanting to do for ages, and we wanted to look for lesser-known films. A lot of people think of sci-fi as ’80s or ’90s blockbusters, but really it goes way back to the silent era and the beginning of cinema. The marathon was conceived to be more visceral and pulpy, and the films in the regular program are the more European stuff that has gone under the radar. We also have the 1973 animation Fantastic Planet with a live music score.

Your Pioneering Women program picks out great Australian films directed by women.
In the mid to late ’90s there was an explosion in Australian female directors. So I wanted to concentrate on the ’80s and early ’90s specifically and so many amazing films from that era are not known today. Gems such as Susan Lambert’s On Guard [1983], a dystopian, anarchic feminist heist thriller. Tracey Moffatt’s Bedevil [1993] – it’s hard to imagine a film like that being made now. Most of the filmmakers are going to be here, and we’re going to have a panel.

Why did you choose to do a filmmaker focus on British director Sally Potter?
She works in so many different genres, but is so experimental and daring. I was watching Orlando (1993) again recently – it’s an incredible film. She comes from a background of dance and experimental performance and she’s really underrated. A lot of her films are personal, but thens he does completely weird things like Rage from 2009 which is basically just interviewing people on the screen about a murder that has happened at a fashion show.

Your opening night film looks very exciting this year.
That’s Jungle by Greg McLean – part of our our Premiere Fund. Every year there are six films where we provide funding that helps them to complete the film and part of the deal is that we get to screen the film in premiere. This is a quite a different film for us, as it’s big and pulpy and genre-like. Daniel Radcliffe is incredible in it, he really is like you’ve never seen him before.

Any word on whether Daniel will come? 
We’re trying really hard, it’s like a daily conversation! They haven’t said no. He loves Melbourne.

You have a Ben Elton-directed film as your Centrepiece Gala.
Three Summers. He’s been working on this for quite a while. It’s a big, broad Australian comedy with an ensemble cast – Magda Szubanski, Deborah Mailman, John Waters, Michael Caton. It’s a satire it’s about a bunch of people who come together over three different years for this folk festival and the relationships they form. It’s a bit of a satire on racism in Australia as well. I think it will play really well.

And you have a music documentary for closing night.
That’s Gurrumul – a very different, moving portrait of ARIA award-winning singer and musician. He’s blind and very shy, so quite a difficult subject for a film, but once you see his story it’s incredibly moving and I get shivers down my spine just thinking about it.

Michelle, could you talk us through some more of your picks for MIFF 2017?

Read Michelle Carey's top 17 picks of MIFF 2017.

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