Steve Savage, executive creative director for the Ramona Bowl Amphitheater.        Photo by J.P. Crumrine
Steve Savage, festival director and founder. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

The Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema returns for its sixth time next month. From opening day, Tuesday, Jan. 6, through the awards ceremony, the evening of Sunday, Jan. 11, festival participants once again will be offered a panoply of dozens of films — from features through documentaries and shorts.

Idyllwild 2015, now the sixth rendition of the film festival, demonstrates the growing reputation of the event. “I had no idea what a wonderful oasis Idyllwild is. What a wonderful surprise finding the forest land. It’s a perfect get-away for film lovers,” said Will Wallace, actor and director and honorary co-director of the festival for the fifth year.

One-hundred thirty-five films will be shown at Idyllwild 2015 and each will have two screenings, said Stephen Savage, festival director and founder. On Saturday at the Idyllwild Library, the focus will be children’s films.

“Until opening night, I have butterflies, [I’m] worried if nobody shows up,” Savage replied when asked what excites him about Idyllwild 2015. “It’s hard to get excited until it’s over, but we’re gaining a reputation as a simple festival and it’s getting bigger.” Then he shared some of this year’s highlights.

Opening night film is “Ron and Laura Take Back America,” a comedy written and directed by its co-stars, the team of Mel England and Janice Markham. The film also stars Golden Globe Best Actress Nominee Irene Bedard, Jim J. Bullock and features a celebrity cameo by Academy Award Best Actress Nominee Sally Kirkland.

Another opening day favorite of Savage’s is “Where Hope Grows,” which Chris Dowling wrote and directed. He was the director of the Idyllwild 2010 best film, “Rock Slyde.” His latest movie, “Where Hope Grows,” is about a former pro ball player who befriends a grocery store clerk with Down syndrome and learns a life lesson.

On Wednesday night, “Solitary,” written and starring Katherine Lee McEwan, will make its world premiere. The film is about a young woman returning home to her aging father who encounters the memories of her buried past.

Adam Schomer is the featured filmmaker this year. His two documentaries, “One Little Pill” and “Polygon,” will be shown Friday, Jan. 9 starting at 11:45 a.m.

The Rustic Theatre will be home for the week-long festival and Savage gushed about the quality of its ability to show these films. For a small-time facility, Shane Stewart has installed a completely digital film room. “The upgrades are amazing and the theater is beautiful. I know it’s costly,” Savage said. “The festival wouldn’t be here without the Rustic.”

The other Idyllwild 2015 film venues are AstroCamp, the Caine Learning Center and one that hasn’t been identified.

With the help of the fest, Savage hopes to help Stewart install a digital marquee and new doors to the theater seating.

International film fans will again have many choices during the busy week. There will be films from many countries, including two from Iran. “They worked hard to get their visas to come here,” Savage said. Other countries represented in this category include Australia, Brazil, France and Mongolia.

A new strength this year will be the student film category, Savage said, brimming. “It’s 10 times bigger, including a great film from UCLA.”

Besides an opportunity to see exceptional and new films and meet the filmmakers, Idyllwild 2015 continues to offer learning experiences for film aficionados. On Saturday, Jan. 10, three different seminars will be offered. These will cover topics such as raising capital, legal issues with distribution and Screen Actor Guild contracts and cost-effective filming.
The website for the Idyllwild 2015, the International Festival of Cinema, is www.idyllwildcinemafest.com.

Passes are available at: www.idyllwildcinemafest.com/purchase-tickets/

A full week’s access to Idyllwild 2015 is $99. Idyllwild residents can get a pass for $35 at the Town Crier office. Tickets will be available online beginning Dec. 17.