Zack Brown’s film “Hard Surfaces,” which he wrote and directed, was chosen the Best of the 2018 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema last year. Joining Brown to receive the honor was Julia Voth, who starred in it and was the producer. File photo

January 11, 2010, that was the opening of the first Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema. In two months, March 5 will be the opening of the 10th IIFC.
While others have had the idea, Stephen Savage took the steps to assemble a team with a common vision and organized an event that continues. Movie professionals, producers, directors and actors recognize the value of this independent film festival. The town and residents benefit from the numerous visitors, and an abundance of fine and unique films to view.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how far this festival has come, and of my partner, Trinity Houston, and the IIFC team who have made it all possible. I had high hopes when I first started laying out the foundation for IIFC in 2009, but the past decade has proven to me that even the highest hopes can fall short of some amazing realities,” Savage wrote on the festival’s website (
The IIFC stature is growing. Last year, eight films were shown that eventually secured distribution contracts. And in its 11th year (2020), Savage expects to receive recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to present films accredited for the Oscars.
“When filmmakers come to Idyllwild, they feel like we’re giving them one-on-one attention,” Savage said. “Our reputation with filmmakers is good.”
And Savage credits the people behind the scenes for doing the work to attract good films and especially to have filmmakers return with their second or third productions. He estimates that 15 percent of this year’s entries are from filmmakers who have previously shown works at the IIFC.
“Jim Dunn has been a seven-year volunteer and Andrea Charles knows so much more about the movies than I do,” Savage stated. They have reviewed and accepted 109 films for 2019.
“This year, we will have the first film from Mongolia,” Savage said with pride. “There are more than 15 foreign entries, including Iran, Australia, and, of course, the UK and Canada.”
The Rustic Theatre and Town Hall again will be venues for the films and possibly the Creekstone. Hollywood stars such as Anne Archer and Loni Anderson are expected to make an appearance during IIFC 10.
Until Feb. 14, local passes for the entire festival may be purchased for $25 at the Rustic Theatre, the Town Crier and some other locations.