AMERICAN Independent Productions will be in the spotlight of the 17th Hongkong International Film Festival. In addition to recent works by directors such as Barbara Kopple, Jonathan Demme, John Sayles and Oliver Stone, the pioneer of these established filmmakers will be featured in a collection of 10 outstanding movies entitled ''A Tribute to John Cassavetes''. The movies by the late American director to be screened in the film festival from April 8 to 23 will include the Venice film festival award-winner Shadows , the Oscar-nominated A Woman Under the Influence, A Child is Waiting starring Burt Lancaster and Judy Garland, Opening Night featuring the husband-and-wife collaboration by Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, plus the two gangster movies made by the director, Gloria and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Spending most of his 30-year film career as a steadfast independent, Cassavetes' unconventional style in filmmaking made him a distinguished figure of the generation which in turn, inspired younger directors such as Martin Scorsese and Robert Altman. His debut feature film Shadows had brought about a new era in American cinema as a then rare low-budget independent film. Equally important was A Child is Waiting , his last studio production, in which he gave emotional and touching depictions on the characters. Cassavetes' films are very often described as ''cinema verity''. His insistence of the naturalistic style in depicting human feelings and relationships made ''improvisation'' a trademark of Cassavetes' films. His passion for verity is evident in his films which deal with ordinary middle-class families - Husbands ; relations of husbands and wives - Faces ; lovers and friends - Minnie and Moskowitz ; parents and children - Love Streams. All these films will be screened in the City Hall and the Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre during the festival, which is presented by the Urban Council. Tickets at $38 and $19 (students and senior citizens) will be available at all URBTIX outlets from today. Programme details are given in the film festival booking folders distributed at ticketing outlets; for more information call 734-2903.