Festival-goers gather in the lobby between films during last year’s Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema. File photo

The Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema (IIFC) 2012 launches its third season on Thursday, Jan. 12, through Sunday, Jan. 15. The festival will screen 50 films over four full days at three venues. The website is up and running and features user-friendly navigation. Synopses and film schedules should help local attendees make their choices and schedule their festival days. The final schedule and synopses will be available after the festival selections are completed.

New this year on the website, under “Submissions,” is the category “Viewers Vote” that previews trailers of films that are under consideration but have not been selected. Viewers can preview potential festival films and with a few more clicks vote to express their preferences. Festival Director Stephen Savage expects to determine the full slate of 2012 films during the first week of December. Also new this year is the festival facebook page, at www.facebook.com/idyllwildcinemafest.

The festival itself will have more time between films, three venues, with one reshowing features in case of primary showing conflicts “This year we’re focusing on beauty and the integrity of the story and quality of filmmaking,” said Savage. “I heard the locals — get rid of the slasher films.” Although still a festival for independent filmmakers, it is again an international festival based on the number of foreign submissions this year.

Savage notes in his director’s message that most festivals fail in gestation or after a year. But if they make it to year three, they might very well last and become linked to a town’s commercial identity, like Sundance, Telluride or Palm Springs.

Savage credits Rustic Theatre owner Shane Stewart for his unflagging support of the Idyllwild festival and for being a major factor in its success to date. “We could not do this without Shane,” he said. “Most young festivals don’t start out with a primary venue like the Rustic, where an owner/operator suspends his feature activity to host a festival without charging the producers. I have come to have so much appreciation for this theatre and for Shane. He believes in the festival and the opportunities it presents for the town.”

The most important change for locals this year is the all-access $20 ticket. Included in that all-access pass are three seminars — “The Working Actor in Hollywood,” “From Screenplay to Screen,” and new this year “Distribution Alternatives, Self Distribution and Marketing” In addition, parties, ceremonies and 50 films including 20 features are all part of IIFC 2012.

What this festival does, according to Savage, is provide a welcoming platform for emerging young talent, a chance for them to be seen by major Hollywood distributors, and an opportunity for townsfolk to meet and greet filmmakers and actors whose names may become household words at some point in the future.

IIFC 2012 will honor several individuals with impressive film and television credits, including Hollywood producer/director/production manager Mike Moder (an interview with him is on page 16) whose credits include “Matlock,” “Perry Mason,” “The Wild, Wild West,” “The Crimson Tide,” “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Jeremiah Johnson.” Important distributors including Miramax/Open Road (Disney) and Osiris Entertainment will also attend (see festival website for more information).

This year’s charity beneficiary is the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Patrick Swayze’s wife Lisa and brother Don will attend the festival. Swayze died of the disease in 2009.