The 57th Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) will open on July 25 with the world premiere of Not Quite Hollywood, writer-director Mark Hartley's long-awaited tribute to the Australian films of the 1970s and 80s that were high on horror, nudity and car chases.

This year's festival is a historic one as Not Quite Hollywood and five other films are the first offspring of MIFF's relatively new Premiere Fund. By coincidence they are all documentaries, including Celebrity: Dominic Dunne, which captured the world of the famous scribe at the time of Phil Spector's US trial.

The international panorama spanning the two-week festival encompasses 70 films and there are nearly 50 documentaries programmed. Films from Romania and Africa, stories exploring the relationship between Israel and Palestine, and the work of horror filmmaker George Romero, and the late Taiwanese director Edward Yang, all have their own strands. Romero will be attending.

MIFF always brags about the number of films coming direct from Cannes and at last count there were 24. Among those from the competition are Gomorrah, Johnny Mad Dog and Waltz With Bashir. This year also pays tribute to 40 years of Directors' Fortnight with nine films including The Devil Probably, Fox And His Friends and Matewan.

Hartley has also co-curated an Ozploitation strand within the festival that includes Bruce Beresford's Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Brian Trenchard-Smith's Turkey Shoot and the late Richard Franklin's Road Games.

Hartley argues that these films have unfairly disappeared from the history books because the negative responses of critics have been preserved but not the enthusiasm of audiences. His film begins with a cultural examination of the times, to give audiences a sense of the 1970s mindset of the audience.

'The challenge was finding the balance between being informative and being wildly entertaining,' he told Screendaily of his documentary, which sales agent HDNet pre-sold to Magnolia in the US and Optimum in the UK. 'Then I hope it's 100 minutes of laughs and gasps, jam packed with anecdotes and stories.'

Young people who have seen the film have told Hartley that they did not think Australia could make films like those celebrated, he added.

MIFF closes with Spanish horror film [REC], co-directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza.