The ninth-annual Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema is from March 6 to 11 this year, with more than 130 films scheduled to be shown during the six-day festival.
“This is the most we’ve ever screened. 2018 could be the best year yet for quality feature films,” said IIFC chair and founder Stephen Savage.
And Andrea Charles, executive artist liaison, watched every film submitted for the festival. While IIFC has a committee of 12 to 15 people to review and screen submissions, Charles is the only one who has seen all 133 and more.
She said that it’s important for her to know and connect with the films because she meets and works with every director or producer who attends the festival.
“It’s a good thing we started early so she had time to view them,” Savage said.
The films include many made by students, thrillers, documentaries and a wide range of international films.
Thrillers, while not a category, were a popular submission this year. “We’re getting away from the slasher and zombie films,” Savage said. “The young filmmakers are getting good scripts and making excellent movies that have a lot of good plot twists.”
Both Savage and Charles emphasized that “international” in the festival’s title is both intentional and meaningful. This year, the festival has films from 14 different countries, both big places, such as China and Spain, as well as small, such as Nepal and Switzerland.
“The student films are getting really good,” Savage said. “We reviewed more than we accepted and the quality is so much more greater.”
The festival opens at the Rustic Theatre at 10 a.m., Tuesday, March 6, with “Vermijo.” While this is a Western set in the 1880s Arizona Territory, its plot is a mystery drama.
The opening feature film is “Lies We Tell,” another mystery, which stars Gabriel Byrne, Sibylla Deen and Harvey Keitel.
Among the many films Savage and Charles recommend are “Shade Tree Mechanics,” about an African American community in Kentucky, “Krieg,” a World War II film, and “Dark Iris.”
“Shade Tree Mechanics,” is non-stereotypical and has a great vision, Savage noted. “Dark Iris” is an independent film made in Oklahoma that looks like a studio production.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, March 10, IIFC will have a special event with two films for $10. Brett Culp’s documentary “Look to the Sky” features 7-year-old Violet Brielle Spataro, who is the Make a Wish Foundation spokes-kid.
Violet suffered from pediatric cancer, but has persevered and is a cancer survivor. She has been a guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show several times.
All of the proceeds from this event will go to the Live Love Foundation, her own nonprofit organization to help other children battling cancer.
Sliver Pines Lodge is the other main IIFC venue. Films will begin being shown there at noon Tuesday, March 6. On Thursday, Town Hall also will be showing some of the films.
And Saturday, March 10 also is the sixth-annual Children’s Film Festival, which begins at 2 p.m., at the Idyllwild Library. Charles, author of “Harvey’s Favorite Day,” also is the hostess of the Children’s Film Festival.
The awards ceremony begins after noon Sunday, March 11, and will be held at the Rustic Theatre.
IIFC tickets are $25. On March 6, tickets for the festival rise to $35.