The seats were filled at the Rustic Theatre. The graphics had sheen. The trophies sparkled. Presenters hit their marks. After their names were called, award recipients walked to center stage, hugged presenters, spoke briefly, thanked the people “without whom the award would not have been possible,” walked to stage right for a photo op, then offstage as the next category was called — in short, an awards walk reminiscent of major film and television awards.
The Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, in year six, showed how much it has grown at its Saturday evening Awards Ceremony. Helmed by IIFC Director and Founder Stephen Savage, opening remarks and awards presentations hummed along with zest, enthusiasm and good humor.
Prior to the start, the capacity crowd buzzed, still networking and brimming with energy from the five-day, five-venue festival. Even dress style popped with a little more glitz than in previous outings.
Old enough to have traditions, the IIFC Awards Ceremony opened with Co-chair Will Wallace’s interactive short, “The Cheater” — audience surprises and laughs still intact. Again, showing professional focus, the evening featured a nod to Pay It Forward Media, a San Diego-based nonprofit providing mentoring and marketable training for underprivileged youth in the field of professional media production.
Savage thanked Shane and Ashley Stewart for making the festival possible. “I told him I was thinking of a film festival,” said Savage. “Then I told him I didn’t have any money. He said he’d give us the first year for free.” Stewart, in suit and tie, said, “I’m already looking forward to year seven,” then exited the stage with Ashley to sustained audience applause.
Wallace noted the quality of this year’s submissions before being joined by Honorary Director and festival regular Wolfgang Bodison. “We’re all just trying to let our stories get out there, to get it done,” said Bodison. “Such a journey — from the thought and idea for a film, then to see it on screen and then to be part of a festival and an awards ceremony. Amazing.”
And, owing to Shane’s installation of state-of-the-art digital sound and projection, Rustic Theatre audio and visual was on a par with any major festival or first-run movie house.
Major awards of the evening went to “54 Days,” recipient of the Grand Jury Award, Best of Festival and Best Foreign Feature; “Solitary,” Best Feature; “A Man Called God,” Best Documentary; “You & Me,” Best Featurette; “Found,” Dr. David Golman Award for Best Short; Best Director for a Feature, Tim R. Lea for “54 Days”; Best Director for a Featurette, Vincent Sabella for “Anonymous”; Best Director for a Short, Terry Ross for “The Last Resort”; Best Actor for a Feature or Featurette, Kristopher Polaha, “Where Hope Grows”; and Best Actress for a Feature or Featurette, Sarina Taylor, “Solitary.” The Audience Choice for Best of Festival was given to “After School.”
Also, a category honoring excellence of women in film, the Mary Austin Awards, featured its own list of acting, directing, screenplay and producing awards.
A full list of awards can be viewed on the festival website at www.idyllwildcinemafest.com.
Said Savage of the profession and the evening, “We’re filmmakers. The art form we’ve chosen has the power to inspire the world.”