Idyllwild Film Festival holds awards ceremony in downtown Hemet
■ Chronicle news Staff
Hemet got a taste of Hollywood when the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema chose to celebrate it’s awards ceremony at the historic Hemet Theatre on Sunday, March 10. Founded by independent filmmaker Stephen Savage, the festival, now in its 10th year, is slated to become Oscar accredited in time for its 2020 season.
Filmmakers from all over the world had gathered in Idyllwild to compete in the festival, which ran from March 5-10. The event has experienced exponential growth since its beginnings in 2010. It was this growth that prompted the festival’s executive director, Trinity Houston, herself a native of Hemet, to move the awards ceremony to the city.
“We had simply outgrown the Idyllwild area and needed a bigger venue for our awards ceremony,” said Houston. “And it was truly amazing to watch the entire community of Hemet come together to help create an unforgettable experience.”
The Riverside County Film Commission, together with prominent city council members in Hemet and San Jacinto, the Hemet Theatre, the Hemet Library, Golden Era, Ramona Bowl, the Classic Car Club of Hemet, Harvard Street’s Downtown Deli, and County Supervisor Chuck Washington all contributed their time and resources to make sure the event was a success, and attendees agreed it was nothing short of spectacular.
Prior to the show, VIPs gathered at the Hemet Public Library for the pre-awards get-together and were then whisked off to the Hemet Theatre in grand style. Courtesy of the Classic Car Club, who donated the use of their vintage vehicles, filmmakers were transported to the theatre in classic style. Upon arrival at the theatre, the filmmakers were greeted by Hemet Mayor Bonnie Wright and San Jacinto Mayor Russ Utz at the red carpet, where the paparazzi then took over and proceeded to flash away.
Throughout the ceremony, new and established filmmakers were recognized for their work in the fields of producing, directing, writing, scoring, cinematography and acting. A number of celebrities were on hand, including noted television director Alan Levi (Columbo, Magnum PI, The Bionic Woman, ER, NCIS) along with actress Nia Peeples (Fame, Walker Texas Ranger) who gave a moving tribute to the late actor Kristoff St. John who had been a regular on the Young and the Restless for more than 20 years, as well as a board member of the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema. Entertainment was provided by the Arias Troubadours performing a number of classic selections from the world-famous Hemet play, Ramona.
All in all, it was a moving experience for those who attended, a true celebration of the spirit of independent filmmaking, combined with a spirit of community highlighted by ceremony performances by the cast of Ramona. Due to the festival’s growth and success, Houston is considering plans in coming years to expand the festival to communities across the country.