Sellars reigns over troubled Adelaide fest

Program cut from 17 days to 10

SYDNEY — Peter Sellars, the controversial former director of the defunct Los Angeles Arts Festival, is presiding over turbulent times as artistic director of the Adelaide Festival.

Biennial fest, which in recent years showcased Ex Machina’s epic play “Seven Streams of the River Ota” and Peter Greenaway’s filmic opera “Writing to Vermeer,” will unfurl March 1, with four feature films providing most of the action.

Program has been cut from 17 days to 10 after the delayed discovery that previous artistic director Robyn Archer’s 2000 fest had lost $642,000.

News of the shortfall preceded a roll call of departures, including that of the fest’s chief exec, Nicholas Heyward; production director David Malacari; performing arts director Angharad Wynne-Jones; and financial director David Hepper. In March, chairman Ed Tweddell and three other board members resigned.

Former Melbourne Festival artistic director Sue Nattrass has assumed chief exec duties, and John Morphett is chairman.

A fest spokesman said the program, due to be announced in late October, will feature predominantly Oz works, not because of the losses or the low Australian dollar but because Sellars considers that the best option.

Pics, selected for their cultural significance, include Rolf de Heer’s “The Tracker”; Tony Ayres’ “Walking on Water”; Paul Goldman’s “Deadly Unna”; and docu “26 Hooks and Eyes.” Each will world premiere in Her Majesty’s 1,000-seat theater.