File photo by Peter Szabadi.

One of the great pleasures of Idyllwild’s independent film festival is seeing new works by up-and-coming filmmakers.

The Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema year eight will not disappoint with an expanded schedule, new offerings and celebrity appearances.

As to what’s new, the IIFC website ( has a partial list of festival films with a new feature that allows one to click on an arrow and go to the trailer for the particular film. Better than a written summary of the plot, viewers can view the trailer and sample the action, sound, cinematography and feel of the film.

According to Stephen Savage, festival founder and director, the official opening night film on Thursday, Jan. 5, is Cassie Jaye’s controversial feature-length documentary, “The Red Pill.” Jaye is a distinguished documentarian but this film may have posed her greatest challenge when, as a feminist filmmaker, she set out to document the mysterious and polarizing world of the men’s rights movement. Expecting to find a misogynist hate group aiming to turn back the clock on women’s rights, Jaye instead learns of the various ways men are disadvantaged and discriminated against. 

At age 21, Jaye won the award for Best Feature Documentary at the 2010 Cannes Independent Film Festival in France for her first feature documentary, “Daddy I Do.”

Also on opening day is the 10th-anniversary screening of Savage’s film “Cosmic Radio,” filmed on location in Idyllwild. “Many of the cast are coming back for the anniversary screening,” said Savage. 

Also on opening weekend, at noon Saturday, Jan. 7, is the premiere of the television pilot, “Tucker’s War,” written and directed by Savage and produced in conjunction with the Summerhawk Film Institute. “Tucker’s War” follows the story of a World War I veteran and medal of honor recipient who comes back from the war to build a life in a country in transition — between a Wild West that no longer exists and an industrial future that is just beginning to unfold. 

Prior to the screening, Savage will have a discussion and Q&A with Joan Benedict Steiger, actor, author and widow of film great Rod Steiger. Benedict Steiger will speak about her own Hollywood career in television and film working alongside such legends as Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney, and her relationship with Steiger. Benedict Steigerwill be featured in Savage’s upcoming feature film “The Wind of Heaven,” scheduled to begin production in 2017.

Closing weekend, on Sunday, Jan. 15, Savage will hold an onstage discussion with Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA-nominated actress Anne Archer. Archer was nominated for all three for Adrian Lyne’s 1987 iconic thriller “Fatal Attraction.” Archer received a Golden Globe for the ensemble cast of Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts” in 1993. 

Festival Executive Producer Trinity Houston also called out as a “must see” film, “Hired Gun,” a documentary look at some of the LA music scene’s top session players and side musicians form the 1970s to the present day. Houston also noted 2017 festival entries come from as far away as Iran, Kosovo, Hong Kong and India, making IIFC 2017 a truly international festival.

IIFC 2017 is sponsored by IM3Global and The Riverside County Film Commission. Tickets, passes as well as all pertinent information can be found on the festival website. IIFC 2017 runs from Thursday, Jan. 5 through Sunday, Jan. 15.