Film festival in eighth year

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Steve Savage, director and chair of the Idyllwild International Festival Of Cinema, stands with the crowd waiting for the Sunday Awards Ceremony to start. Photo by John Drake

Steve Savage, director and chair of the Idyllwild International Festival Of Cinema, stands with the crowd waiting for the Sunday Awards Ceremony to start at the 2016 IIFC. Photo by John Drake

The Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema enters year eight strong and healthy with 11 days and two weekends in which to see all films. IIFC opens on Thursday, Jan. 5 and runs through Sunday, Jan. 15.

Stephen Savage’s idea for an independent film festival began as a valentine to Idyllwild — a way to bring tourists and film professionals to the town that means more to Savage than any other. And an on-Hill festival celebrating film has historical antecedents.

Idyllwild was a much-used location site for Hollywood movies beginning in the mid 20th century. More recently, Savage has filmed several of his feature films here.

To Savage, a festival celebrating independent filmmakers would be both a tip of the hat to Idyllwild’s film history as well as an economic boost for the town’s businesses.

By expanding the number of days to see films and keeping the local all-venue pass at bargain prices, Savage hopes to woo back the record number of locals who attended year one of the festival. “We’ll be screening 125 to 130 films, including many Idyllwild Arts student films, and, with the expanded schedule, locals should be able to see everything,” said Savage.

He noted the local pass is $35 and any church and/or charity that sells tickets would receive another $10 discount for their members. “I’ve always wanted community involvement with the festival,” said Savage.

And to make it more convenient for locals and visitors, all films will be screened at only two venues, the Rustic Theatre and Silver Pines Lodge, walking distance from each other. “Both venues are in the downtown area,” said Savage. “Thanks to Shane Stewart, the Rustic has state-of-the-art digital projection and sound. At Silver Pines we’ll be using a 7K [higher intensity] digital projector and a 15-foot-by-15-foot screen for a great viewing experience.”

Formats for the festival remain similar — films, seminars, parties and the always popular awards ceremony at the Rustic. “The only thing we’ve dropped this year is the music video category,” said Savage. “The Rustic will be more involved as a liaison. [New owner] Kevin Nett has been great.”

Savage is as excited about IIFC 8 as he was about the first festival in 2010. “I never cease to be amazed that we got this far,” he recalled. “It’s become a viable and highly regarded independent festival. The question is no longer whether we’ll be doing a festival. It’s now a foregone conclusion that we’ll be doing one every year.”

While local support may have dipped, attendance from off-Hill film professionals and visitors has grown. Savage noted average attendance for the shorter six-day festival was from 700 to 900. This year he expects greater attendance given the expanded viewing schedule and the two included weekends.

Savage said part of his focus as a filmmaker, producer and entrepreneur is to encourage and showcase the work of student filmmakers. This year, there will be an expanded segment of Idyllwild Arts student films. “We have a great relationship with Idyllwild Arts film department,” said Savage.

There will also be a children’s film segment hosted at the Idyllwild Library. The Town Crier will write more about that aspect of IIFC 8 in a subsequent article.

For more about IIFC 8, visit www.idyllwildcinemafest.com.

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