AFI winners Animal Kingdom and Tomorrow, When The War Began also screening at 17th edition of festival (May 5-12) at the Barbican

The 17th edition of the London Australian Film Festival (LAFF) will kick off tonight with the UK premiere of Kriv Stenders’ Red Dog, an adaptation of the bestselling novel of the same name, with an introduction from author Louis de Bernières, actor Noah Taylor and the film’s producer Nelson Woss.

Closing the festival on May 12 will be Jucy, a quirky comedy about two best friends working in a video store who get involved with a local production of Jane Eyre. Director Louise Alston, whose debut feature All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane was a hit at 2008’s LAAF, will also take part in a Q&A at the closing gala.

This year also sees the return of ‘Dark Side of Down Under’ featuring Sean Byrne’s black horror-comedy The Loved Ones and true story The Reef. In keeping with the horror theme, curator Katrina Schwarz will introduce ‘Short Sharp Shocks’, a brand new addition to the 2011 LAAF, showcasing contemporary artists’ work with moving image, paired with a screening of newly restored 1971 thriller Outback (Wake In Fright).

Two short film festivals will also be highlighted at the festival: a prize winning selection of shorts and animation from Flickerfest, held in Bondi Beach, will be shown before each feature, while the annual free screening of the 16 finalists from Tropfest, the world’s largest short film festival, will take place on May 12.

Sundance 2010 Grand Jury winner AnimalKingdom, last year’s biggest local box office hit Tomorrow, When The War Began and Cannes 2010 closing film The Tree are also screening during the festival, which runs May 5-12.