idyllwild film festival

Room for Two

Despite the presence of the much bigger film fest in Palm Springs, Idyllwild's has found its niche.

Julie Pendray Arts & Entertainment

idyllwild film festival
In her documentary, Cassie Jaye examines the Men's Rights Movement.

A chance to meet movie makers informally at restaurants and opportunities for wood-fire romance against a backdrop of mountain scenery attracts another set of film fans to the Idyllwild International Film Festival each January. Billed as one of California’s fastest growing indie movie showcases, the event, now in its 8th year, will run Jan. 5-15, up from seven days last year. Over 130 films will represent filmmakers from as far away as Hong Kong, the UK, India, Iran and Kosovo, as well as the United States.

Festival founder Stephen Savage says hosting the event in January brings much needed revenue to this tiny mountain economy in one of its slowest months. Though the Idyllwild Film Fest overlaps with Palms Springs International Film Festival, Savage says he holds it in the second week in January during one of winter’s driest months — important for a mountain town. Measurable snow has only fallen once in the event’s history.

Stephen Savage will screen a pair of movies while he heads the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema.

Among the festival highlights will be Hollywood legend Joan Steiger, who will talk about her career working alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney and her relationship with actor husband Rod Steiger on Jan. 5. She also will discuss her role in Savage’s upcoming film, The Wind of Heaven. The Opening Weekend Showcase on Jan. 7 is the world premiere of a Western TV pilot, Tucker’s War, also from Savage.

The Official Opening Night Kick Off Jan. 5 will include The Red Pill, a controversial new work by international award-winning documentarian Cassie Jaye, as well as a Special Opening Night Feature to be announced. On Jan. 15, actress Anne Archer will talk about her career, including performances in Fatal Attraction, Clear and Present Danger, and Patriot Games. The festival’s awards will be presented that afternoon.

These are among the must-see selections, according to festival organizers.

Justine Herron is Supermom to her daughter.

Changeover: (director Estes Tarver) After Madeline Taylor suffers the extreme loss of her family in a fatal car wreck, she moves in with her almost estranged uncle and his young son. Still trying to cope with her parents’ death, Madeline suffers from PTSD, suicidal thoughts and she almost kills herself. But after feeling the love her new family gives her, her life changes over.

Sienna’s Choice: (director Linda Palmer) What exactly defines life? Is it the amount of days we live or how those days are lived? Follow the journey of Sienna, an ambitious hard-working woman who has her life ahead of her until an expected life threatening situation causes her world to come crashing down. In our darkest moments can we find hope amidst tragedy? Who speaks for us when we cannot speak?

Supermom: Director Jason Honeycutt, a previous award winner at Idyllwild for Best Screenplay (Intersection), returns with this film about a daughter who thinks her mother is a real life super hero.

The Watchers features (from left) Anya Rivers, LeShay N. Tomlinson, and Rhobye Wyatt.

Standpoint: (director Erik Hirschhorn) Aliza is an aspiring ballerina who must put her dreams of joining the New York Ballet Company on hold as she escapes Nazi-occupied Poland to protect her husband and young daughter. However, if she can make it to the auditions in Prague, she might be able to save her family as well as her dreams. Aliza and her family go through struggling and heartbreaking situations as they try to reach Prague.

30 Days to Say Goodbye: (director Edward King III) Alex, a loving father of two, fights to keep his sanity and his family as his husband James’ mind slips away from complications sustained in an accident.

The Watchers: (directors Michael Van Patten, Jason Fedusenko, and Edward King III) Mysterious watchers create chaos through mind control, altering the course of domestic and international social and political events. Who do they work for? What is their ultimate goal? Are they watching you? Welcome to the new age.

Missing Child: (director: Luke Sabis) A young woman, Gia, who never knew her parents, discovers she resembles an age-progressed photo of a missing child. In this disturbing thriller, she uncovers secrets and lies in an attempt to find closure to her own unsettled past.

Caged: (director Massimo Bordonaro) Karrisa and Chris Kline have been happily married for six years. At least Karrisa thinks so. During a dinner party to celebrate her husband’s new promotion, Karrisa’s life begins to fall apart when a secret starts to circulate among the party guests.

Luke Sabis directs Erik A. Williams (left) and Ryan Karloff in Missing Child.

Karrisa’s best friend Karen Stevens vows to keep the secret from Karrisa until the end of the night. But some secrets are just too hard to keep.

The IIFC Children’s Film Festival will be held each Saturday of the film fest from 2 to 3:30 p.m., hosted by Idyllwild Public Library. This is a free event.

Visit the festival website at for ticket information and more.