L.A. indie fest calls for pix

60% of earlier entrants secured distribution

PARK CITY, Utah — The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival announced a call for entries for this year’s event, which unspools April 16-20.

Fast emerging as a major launching pad for American indies, LAIFF ’98 announced major expansion for the upcoming edition. The event will switch venues to Sunset Boulevard with screenings and seminars to take place at the Directors Guild of America, Laemmle’s Sunset 5, the Harmony Gold Preview House and the Laugh Factory. Programmers for the fourth edition of the fest said they’re planning to schedule 75 films and 17 seminars this year plus a musicvideo sidebar and the New Media Forum.

“We increased the size of the program department in anticipation of an onslaught of submissions,” said LAIFF program director Thomas Ethan Harris. “We received more than 1,200 films to consider last year and there’s every indication there will be a significant increase this year.”

Since its inception in 1995, the fest has demonstrated a remarkable eye for spotting new talent. A spokeswoman for the organization said that roughly 60% of its premieres have subsequently secured theatrical distribution. The list includes “Squeeze” via Miramax, “Ripe” from Trimark, Phaedra’s “Sudden Manhattan” and the forthcoming “Big City” by Miramax.

Films compete for a series of audience prizes and a separate award is given by the editorial staff of Filmmakers Magazine.

The festival, in part, grew out of a desire by several nonprofit organizations to create a new outlet for showcasing indies. It has grown to 10 under the banner of the L.A. Film Collaborative including the Independent Feature Project, the Intl. Documentary Assn., Women in Film, the Black Filmmakers Foundation, Out on Screen and the American Cinematheque.

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