61st edition runs August 2-19.

PJ Hogan’s Australian comedy Mental [pictured] will close the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) on August 18, two months before Universal releases it in Australian cinemas on October 4.

Like Hogan’s debut film Muriel’s Wedding, made 17 years ago, it stars Toni Collette and features a bunch of eccentric characters. Anthony LaPaglia is also in the cast.

MIFF let it be known some time ago that another homegrown picture, The Sapphires, would be opening the festival on August 2, a week before Hopscotch releases the musical, which received aspecial midnight screening at Cannes.

MIFF will also act as a platform for another new Australian theatrical release, Boyd Hicklin’s cricket comedy Save Your Legs! which was partly filmed in India.

Madman has a January release planned and this will be the world premiere for the film which was supported by MIFF’s Premiere Fund. Several documentaries in the program were also part financed by this fund.

This year’s 61st MIFF will celebrate European filmmaking with a program put together in conjunction with Festival Scope. The 12 titles are Best Intentions, Futures Market, Oslow, 31. August, L, The Legend of Kaspar Hauser, Shock Head Soul, Our Children, Palaces of Pity, The Red And The Black, Two Years At Sea, Whores’ Gallery and Silver Bear winner from Berlin, Just The Wind.

The Film Critics Circle of Australia will decide which of these gets the TeleScope Award and it will be announced on closing night.

There are about a dozen films in a spotlight on new Latin America cinema. The titles include The Student, Sundance winner Violeta Went To Heaven, Miss Bala and Sydney Film Festival competition title Neighbouring Sounds.

“New and under-seen” Swedish films, the work of the French auteurs Jean Epstein and Leos Carax, 70s comedy from Hollywood, a diverse selection of Asian films, and a bunch of Chinese documentaries are also in the program.

Documentaries always get a lot of attention in MIFF’s program, as do music-themed films, screened under the Backbeat banner.

Melbourne also always prides itself on the number of films it screens straight from Cannes and this year is no different. Among more than 35 films are Palme d’Or winner Amour, Camera d’Or winner Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Jury Prize Winner The Angel’s Share, The Hunt, which earned Mads Mikkelsen the award for best actor, and Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize winner Le Grand Soir