The Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema (IIFC) enters year seven with over 300 films in submission. “Last year we had 160,” said festival founder and director Stephen Savage. “This year is almost double from last year.

“Our reputation for quality independent films is growing. The Hollywood Reporter article naming the festival one of the ‘new indie mavericks’ has also helped.”

And with success comes change, and there are many for the festival’s season seven. “We’re going to six days,” said Savage, “from Tuesday, Jan. 5, through end of day Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. The awards ceremony happens Sunday night at the Rustic.

“We are also adding a new venue, the Mary Austin Theatre, the former county library site. We’ll now have the Rustic as our primary venue, and, as last year, we’ll also have AstroCamp, the Caine Center, and Silver Pines Lodge. With the increased number of venues we’ll be able to screen everything at least twice.

“I like where we are with the festival. The people running it are amazing.” Savage noted that he has the right people in place to run IIFC, leaving him time to pursue his own filmmaking career. He is shooting his biggest film, “The Wind of Heaven,” in both Montana and Garner Valley beginning in 2016.

Trinity Houston and Martina Webster are executive festival producer and co-producer. Houston has a distinguished background in entrepreneurship, in entertainment publishing, event planning, trade show management and public relations. She is co-owner of the international entertainment and marketing firm 8 Days A Week based in Cancun, Mexico. Houston created Vacation Entertainment Television, broadcast daily on travel and leisure channels internationally. She also created INdTelevision for Time Warner Cable, an arts and entertainment programming platform spotlighting talent in indie film, music and culture.

Webster has a business background, having worked for major companies Gibson and Fender guitars. She has a master’s degree in dance and is an award winning photographer.

Joining the festival this year as Grand Jury members are Kristoff St. John, five time Emmy Award and multiple NAACP Image Award winning actor and filmmaker and Allan Katz, writer, director and ad man who was one of the youngest writers on Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh In.” Katz also wrote for “Sanford and Son,” “All in the Family” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Katz has taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and at Lawrence University’s Film School in Appleton, WI.

“We’ll be screening films from 13 countries including Iran, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Australia,” said Savage. “Based on number of submissions, we’ve become the number one indie film festival destination for UK and Australia filmmakers.”

Savage said the all-festival pass for locals continues to be a great bargain. “Yes there are a lot of films,” said Savage about comments that there are too many to see. “You have to pick and choose, look at the offerings and make your choices. That’s what film festivals are about.”

The Town Crier will begin coverage of the upcoming festival, highlighting festival films to be shown in competition, seminars to attend, and profiling industry luminaries who will be in attendance. “We’re successful within the industry – with actors, producers and indie filmmakers who attend,” said Savage. “What I really want is for the town of Idyllwild to be involved, to come on board. There will be some extraordinary films and great overall quality.”

For more about IIFC 2016, see