Idyllwild International Film Festival Plans Virtual Screenings

For 13 years, Stephen Savage and his colleagues have valiantly brought an annual selection of independent films to screens around Idyllwild, the artsy, wooded village on Mount San Jacinto above Palm Springs. In ‘normal times’ it added a week of colorful conversations in local restaurants and pubs, as filmmakers from around the world discussed their shared love for the art form.

However, the Idyllwild International Film Festival will be online again this year. Viewers can get the names of official film selections on the festival website. Some films have trailers which can be found on YouTube or the filmmakers’ social media. The Grand Jury, consisting of Roger Taylor (drummer for rock band Queen), Anne Archer (actress/producer) and Alan J. Levi (director’s credits include NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles) will watch the movies privately. Members of the public will not be able to view the films, but the awards ceremony will be streamed online for free on March 13.

Meanwhile, big plans are afoot for another push in 2023.

“We had a great time last year,” says Savage, who is the festival’s founder and director. “Even Sundance didn’t have a live festival last year.” But that’s not how he and executive producer Trinity Houston prefer to organize the event, he adds.

Savage notes that 500 tickets were sold in 2020 before the Idyllwild International Film Festival moved to an online format due to Covid restrictions. He and Houston will seek bigger venues for 2023 and that will likely mean staging parts of their event off the Hill. “We hope to have up to 200 films next year,” he said.

It is also planned to go up a notch. In previous years, an occasional winner has graced the Idyllwild venues in evening dress or a tuxedo. “That’s the kind of thing we want at our awards show,” Savage said. “No more jeans.”

• VIDEO: Watch the Road Most Traveled trailer.

Darcy J. Skinner