Festival Chairman Phil Calderone. Photo courtesy of Calderone.
Festival Chairman Phil Calderone announced the selections and schedules for Idyllwild 2012 International Festival of Cinema (IIFC) on Monday, Dec. 19. He noted the still-nascent festival is hosting six world premieres, one U.S. premiere, two West Coast premieres and two Southern California premieres. The list of films, based on online festival synopses, seems to reflect Festival Director Stephen Savage’s promise to feature story-centric quality films. The broad mix of dramas, comedies and documentaries listed on the festival website appears diverse and interesting. Synopses of festival selections are available, by category, at www.iifoc.com.

The Festival’s closing film will be “Life at the Resort,” directed by Jeff Sable and Zander Villayne, according to Calderone. It’s billed as both a comedy and intrigue that uncovers, through a roller coaster of ups and downs, that there is considerably more than hospitality being offered up at a famous Five Star resort.

While Festival Director Stephen Savage has been occupied shooting a feature film, Calderone has largely taken the day-to-day reins of orchestrating this year’s festival. Calderone’s handy work shows in the well-provisioned and user-friendly festival website and in festival selections, all of which Calderone has seen and approved, and many of which he personally brought in.

Calderone is both a filmmaker and a film buff. It’s clear in talking with him, that he love movies and has a particular soft spot for independent movies.

“I want to see an audience for these films. There is such a depth of emotion that goes into making these films,” he said, noting the raw passion and enthusiasm young filmmakers bring to their first films. “You can see a full spectrum of work at this festival, hits, near misses, and everything in between. And then there are films like [festival selection] ‘Buttons in the Ground’ that are perfect — beautifully written, acted and filmed.”

Calderone and Savage cited several films as personal favorites that show the quality they believe is representative of this year’s selections. They discussed several of the feature films.

“Greencastle” is a quirky off-beat drama about a single father’s search for meaning. “Paradise Recovered” is about a woman evangelical who questions her faith. “It’s balanced and provocative, with nuanced subject matter,” said Calderone.

“The Selling,” features a too-honest-for-his-own-good real estate agent who has to sell a haunted house. “It’s funny,” said Calderone, “and made by a group of actors who had worked together as a theater troupe.”

Calderone also liked the short “Get Off My Porch,” as much for the one-line synopsis as for the very funny film itself. “How could you not like a film with such a great premise?” Calderone laughed. The synopsis reads, “A man is terrorized by Girl Scouts selling ‘delicious’ cookies.” Savage tipped his hat to the feature comedy, “Walk a Mile in My Pradas,” as being both provocative and funny. The brief online synopsis should be enough to pique interest.

The films are, with a few exceptions, scheduled in two-hour blocks in consideration of patrons’ time, said Festival Director Savage. Since most feature and full-length documentary running times are about 90 minutes, post-screening question and answer sessions are being limited this year to 10 minutes. That leaves about 20 minutes between films for attendees to eat, shop or get to the other two venues — the Rainbow Inn and the Caine Learning Center.

For anyone wanting to prescreen their choices, one of the strong features of this year’s festival website is the ability to view trailers for festival features and documentaries.

A new feature this year is the availability of the Quiet Creek Living Room Gallery, just north of the Rustic, as a post-screening gathering place for patrons to meet and greet filmmakers. The gallery, according to Savage, will be open during festival hours.

All access passes for locals at a $20 price are also a new feature this year. Passes, screening schedules, trailers, synopses and seminar descriptions are available for patron perusal at www.iifoc.com.