The inauguralHad To Be Made Film Festival (HTBMFF), which seeks to raise public awareness ofAmerican independent pictures by making its entire programme available forrental at participating video stores, has announced its first call for entries.Festival director Michael Kyle said yesterday (Dec 16) that the event willlaunch on Feb 1, 2003 and take the form of a nationwide, year-round roster forfeatures and shorts comprising two six-month programmes. The first deadline forfeatures and shorts ñ regardless of completion date - is Jan 12, 2003.

Unlike mosttraditional festivals, HTBMFF will not have a physical base and will relyinstead on participating video stores around the country. Those already onboard include Vidiots in Los Angeles, TLA in Philadelphia and New York City andScarecrow in Seattle. "The films are a part of our festival's programmesthat are available for rental only - they are not being sold or distributed, sofilm-makers will not lose the right to be in other festivals or finddistribution," Kyle, a former business consultant to the US majors, said."By being in HTBMFF, in fact, we believe it will enhance a film'spotential for acquisition."

Kyle andco-founder and independent film-maker Richard Green would like the public tohost their own festival screenings of selected films and apply online to becomean "evaluator" to help select programmes and winners. Eachsix-month programme will comprise ten features plus shorts. Each month for fivemonths participating video stores will release two videos for publicconsideration, with each video containing one feature, two shorts and afilm-maker profile. Winning films will be honoured in a special gala and becomeeligible for collectoris edition DVD production and sales representationto all distribution channels. Prize money will be allocated on a sliding scaleand hinges on the financial success of the rental scheme.

While submissions will initially focus on US-only titles,Kyle and Green are currently looking to expand internationally, beginning withCanada, the UK and Australia. The festival is partnering with two majorsponsors - Crest National, the Hollywood-based media facility, and M&KSound, the Los Angeles-based loudspeaker and subwoofer manufacturer.Film-makers can submit their work through Without A Box ( download entry forms at the HTBMFF website at