“Fireflies in the Garden,” will open year three of the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema 2012 (IIFC). The festival of independent films announced its opening films and special screenings on Monday, Dec. 12. Festival Director Stephen Savage said the closing film has not yet been decided.

In keeping with his promise to move the festival selections toward those with wider appeal and greater cinematic quality, Savage noted the opening feature and featurette promise visual and script integrity and the emotional tugs that make for memorable film experiences.

The opening feature, “Fireflies in the Garden,” was originally released in 2008 at the Berlin Film Festival, but was not released in the U.S. until 2011. The story depicts how three generations of a family handle a tragedy that affects their lives and exacerbates an already-strained father-son relationship. Starring Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Willem Defoe and Emily Watson, the version of “Fireflies” that will screen at IIFC is newly edited and features a new soundtrack.

Roberts and her husband, cinematographer Danny Moder, are responsible for the new edit and soundtrack. They now own the film and control its distribution. IIFC will be the first festival to screen the new version according to Savage, who hopes to have Moder attend the screening. In addition, they are attempting to include Roberts, who will be on location in Hawaii, in a Skype question and answer session.

“Buttons in the Ground,” the opening featurette, is a charming story about the innocence of childhood that tells of the closely held dreams and fantasies of a young child who believes she can grow buttons by planting them. Discussing his film, writer and director Andrew Fisher said, “My goal in telling this story is to show how wonderful those few years are when a child still sees the world as it really is — magical. And unfortunately, the most effective way to realize how precious a child’s innocence and faith is, is to see the pain caused by its loss.” The trailer and behind-the-scenes footage are available at the film website www.buttonsintheground.com.

As is becoming common for indie films, the film’s $30,000 budget was raised online through www.kickstarter.com, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Each week projects with fixed funding deadlines are available at kickstarter for potential funders, after examining pitches for and descriptions of projects in music, film, art, design, publishing and other creative fields. Creators retain full control and ownership of their project, rewarding subscribers for their “involvement grants” with products and experiences relating to the project. As an example, for a $500 grant, the grantor’s name is printed as a credit at the end of the film. A project must reach its full funding goal during the allotted period before the money pledged actually vests. “Buttons” made its budget and then some on Oct. 18, 2010, providing funding from pre-production to final print.

The opening night short films are “Fish,” from the United Kingdom and “Moving Day” from Australia. Both “Fish” star Francesca Brown and director Damian Samuels will attend the Idyllwild screening.

“Moving Day,” according to Festival Chairman Phil Calderone, is “a brilliant short film, beautifully shot, witty and cute.”

“The film is about a young girl adjusting to her new backyard in an unexpected way,” Calderone noted. Jason Wingrove, born in England and now residing in Australia, is the director.

IIFC 2012 opens Thursday, Jan. 12 and runs through Sunday, Jan. 15. Local all access passes are available for $20 at www.iifoc.com.