The Adelaide Festival Corporation has commissioned three features and a 50-minute film which will start shooting in Australia early next year, in time to premiere at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in March 2002.

It is believed to be the first time that a festival has specifically commissioned films to be exhibited alongside other art forms. The Adelaide Festival Corp received funding from the South Australian government for the venture, which is also backed by Australian broadcaster SBS. The festival and SBS are investing in all the films but each has been financed separately with a variety of partners.

Bridget Ikin, who leaves her role as head of SBS Independent on December 20, is an associate director of the festival and will be executive producer on all the projects.

The features include black comedy Walking On Water, to be directed by Tony Ayres from a script by Roger Monk, and Rolf de Heer's Australian western The Tracker. Walking On Water, about a household of friends plunged into grief and betrayal by the death of a friend, will be produced by Liz Watts and is also being backed by the New South Wales Film and Television Office (FTO) and the Premium Movie Partnership (PMP). Globe will distribute locally and a deal is being finalised with a sales agent.

The Tracker, which has also received investment from the Australian Film Finance Corporation (FFC) and the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), has Italy's Intra Films attached as international sales agent and also involves Globe and PMP. David Gulpilil, Gary Sweet, Damon Gameau and Grant Page have been cast and the film will have a live orchestral accompaniment when it premieres.

No details were available for the third feature, which has SAFC financing and is being considered by the FFC board shortly. The FTO is the third financier of the 50-minute biopic 26 Hooks & Eyes, being written and directed by Andrew Taylor with Jo-anne McGowan producing. It is about anthropologist Daisy Bates, who lived in Aboriginal communities.