World premieres include dramas from Schepisi, Hewitt, Do and Lahiff; closing film will be Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive.

The 11 feature-length world premieres in the 60th Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) include Fred Schepisi’s drama The Eye Of The Storm, David Bradbury’s documentary about auteur director Paul Cox, On Borrowed Time, and new films by Jon Hewitt, Khoa Do and Craig Lahiff.

Artistic director Michelle Carey has chosen to open MIFF on July 21 with Belgium film The Fairy, directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy, and will close with Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive 17 days later.

Kriv Stenders’ homegrown Red Dog was going to do the closing night honours until Roadshow moved the release date to the Thursday before closing night.

This MIFF is the first to have Carey’s hands on the creative reins, although she had been senior programmer on the previous three.

The Fairy is that rare case of a festival-friendly film that is honourably humanist and inventive yet unapologetically accessible and comical,” she said. “That it is also whimsical and a little nostalgic makes it the perfect opening for the 60th MIFF.”

More than 300 films will be shown in a variety of programme strands. As usual, more than 20 were first seen at Cannes and the largest strand is the international panorama. Documentary, Asian and music films are also again included.

In addition Carey has programmed 12 new films from 12 countries in the European Union, a selection of crime genre films, and a retrospective of 10 “significant and magnificent films” previously shown at MIFF to celebrate its anniversary.

Six features with funding from the festival’s own investment fund will have their world premieres at MIFF, the dramas being Craig Lahiff’s thriller Swerve and Falling For Sahara, about three young African refugees living in Melbourne’s inner west and the second film in Khoa Do’s refugee trilogy.

The two other Australian dramatic features are Jon Hewitt’s X, about two prostitutes in Sydney’s red-light district, and The Eye Of The Storm, adapted from a novel by one of Australia’s literary giants, Nobel Prize winning author Patrick White. Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis play the children of Charlotte Rampling in the tale of a bourgeois Sydney family.

The documentaries with money from the MIFF fund to receive their first outing are: Ben Lee: Catch My Disease, Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s portrait of the singer-songwriter Ben Lee; Curse Of The Gothic Symphony, Randall Wood’s exploration of the difficulties of staging the largest, longest and most complex symphony ever composed; The Triangle Wars, Rosie Jones’ exploration about an epic battle for a St Kilda parking lot; and Autoluminescent: Rowland S Howard, Richard Lowenstein’s look at guitarist, songwriter and artist named in the title.

The remaining two world premieres are also documentaries: I Am Eleven, the result of Genevieve Bailey spending four years travelling the world and talking to 11-year-olds; and Persecution Blues: The Battle For The Tote, Natalie van Den Dungen’s love letter to a Melbourne pub.

As part of its focus on work made for television, the MIFF is screening the first two episodes of The Slap, a series being made for ABC TV and adapted from a novel by Christos Tsiolkas, one of the writers on Blessed and Head On.