Moody Blues vocalist, composer and lead guitarist Justin Hayward and Julie Ragins are featured on the title song of Stephen Savage’s epic feature film “The Wind of Heaven.” Hayward’s music video of the title song will be screened on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Rustic Theatre. Photo courtesy Trinity Houston

It’s opening day and opening weekend for year eight of the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema. And this audacious upstart festival that Stephen Savage started as a valentine to his hometown of Idyllwild has grown into a preeminent indie film event.

While Founder and Festival Chairman Savage is increasingly involved writing and directing major feature films, including his upcoming 2017 epic, “The Wind of Heaven,” day-to-day management of IIFC is under the helm of Executive Festival Producer Trinity Houston. 

With a background in entertainment, publishing, event planning, trade show management and public relations, Houston is a natural to manage the multifaceted aspects of a film festival. 

Houston optioned Savage’s script of “The Wind of Heaven,” and will produce it, along with Martina Webster and David Minasian. As a major component of the 2017 project set to begin filming in the spring, the theme song for the film has been written by the Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward and Minasian. Houston has produced and directed a music video of the theme song that rock legend Hayward performs. Hayward has named his upcoming live tour “The Wind of Heaven Tour, 2017.” The tour will precede a landmark 50th anniversary international tour celebrating the release of the iconic 1967 album “Days of Future Passed.”

As a lead up to “The Wind of Heaven” music video screening, Moody Blues keyboardist Julie Ragins will perform live at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, at the Creekstone Inn, festival social headquarters. Ragin’s appearance at IIFC will kick off her nationwide tour with her musician husband Curtis Brengle, concluding just in time to join Hayward’s “Wind of Heaven” tour beginning in February.

One of the showcase moments of this festival occurs at “High Noon” on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Rustic Theater, when some of the sheen and sophistication that is now a hallmark of this festival is on display.        

At noon Houston airs “The Wind of Heaven” music video featuring Hayward, guitar virtuoso Mike Dawes and David Minasian. Then, Savage will hold a Q&A with Joan Benedict Steiger, actor, author and widow of film great Rod Steiger. Steiger will talk about her own Hollywood career in television and film working with such legends as Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney, and about her relationship with her late husband.

Wrapping up the “High Noon” festivities, “Tucker’s War,” a Savage-written and directed TV pilot, will screen.

With the support and participation of celebrities such as Hayward, Steiger and Academy Award nominee Ann Archer, and a growing catalogue of award-winning films, IIFC has grown into an independent festival of consequence. As Savage recently observed, “It’s no longer a question of ‘if’ we’ll have a festival. It’s an established and highly regarded event for independent filmmakers.”

Houston confirmed that Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington will attend the awards ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 15, to assist in presenting awards. “The EDA [Economic Development Agency], and the Riverside County Film Commission will also be in attendance,” said Houston. “They are trying to bring more film production to the county to increase business and revenue for the area.”

Tickets to IIFC 8 are available at the Rustic and online on the IIFC site ( Locals’ tickets are $35 for the entire festival, and available at or at the Town Crier.


Editor's note: A prior version of this story had the "Winds of Heaven" music video event on Saturday.