Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema Awards presents many awards in absentia


The independent filmmakers who spent a week showing off their films, documentaries and film shorts in picturesque Idyllwild were unable to attend a planned gala Awards Banquet because of the coronavirus, but they still received their awards Sunday, March 15.

The banquet for the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema winners was to be held at Golden Era Studios in San Jacinto, but it was canceled immediately after the U.S. government declared the coronavirus a worldwide pandemic and asked all Americans to observe social distancing to stop the spread of the virus.

Many independent filmmakers had gathered in Idyllwild for the annual weeklong event before various coronavirus-related travel restrictions were implemented, according to a IIFC news release.

“Plans for the final day’s lavish awards ceremony had to be scrapped in favor of a more low-key affair for those already in attendance. Despite the last-minute restructuring, spirits were high as many talented filmmakers were thrilled to have their creative efforts honored by a jury of industry veterans in numerous categories,” Stephen Savage, founder and director of IIFC, said. “This was our 11th year and I am continually amazed at the level of quality and artistry that seems to grow year after year, and 2020 was no exception.

“Trinity Houston skillfully navigated the ever-changing landscape, thus providing an exceptional experience for grateful attendees despite challenging circumstances,” Savage said.

“Of course, safety was our No. 1 concern. And even though our final day awards ceremony was much smaller than originally planned, those who were here had a fantastic time,” Trinity Houston said.

Exceptional artistry was on full display as nearly 100 films were screened during the festival, according to the news release. Many new, as well as experienced, filmmakers were honored in the feature, featurette, short and new media categories with veteran actors Anne Archer of “Fatal Attraction” and Monte Markham of “Melrose Place” serving as judges. Also tapped to lend critical expertise was award-winning cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia of “At Close Range” and legendary Queen drummer Roger Taylor.

Many films demonstrated profound skills in both production and storytelling with South Africa’s intense drama “Losing Lerato” taking top honors in the feature film category.

The awards committee said, “Houston and the county of Riverside Film Commission should be congratulated for providing a safe and enjoyable experience under the most difficult of circumstances.”

Film Festival Awards

The full list of the winners are listed.

“Losing Lerado” took Best of Festival. The “Audience Choice” went to “Ladies Most Deject;” the Festival Director’s Choice by Savage was “Inner Fire; Festival Producer’s Choice by Houston was “Child Bride.”

The Best Feature Film was “Interpreters,” and the Best Featurette was “In the Mind’s Eye.” The Best Short Film was “Crimson Cuffs,” and the Indie Spirit Awards Best Shorts was awarded to “In the Blood” and “Darling Darling Wendy.”

The Best Director of a Feature Film went to Mikhail Mareskin for “Inner Fire;” Best Director for a Featurette was Greti Claggett for “Stormchaser.”

Also, Best Director of a Short Film was awarded to Madeline Vail for “Crimson Cuffs,” with Best Director for a Documentary, Deborah Anderson for “Women of the White Buffalo.”

The Anne Archer Award for Excellence in Acting was given to Chuti Tiu.

The Mary Austin Award for Excellence in Screenwriting went to Melissa Donello.

The Mary Austin Award for Excellence in Producing went to Quincey Kulava.

The Mary Austin Award for Excellence in Directing was awarded to Alicia Dufour.

Indie Spirit Awards went to “Never Surrender,” “Carolina,” “Black Moon,” “Mother’s Day Memories,” “Alien Guy Tim,” “Eat the Rainbow,” “The Donbass Children,” “Grimsby Girl,” “Intervention,” “Los Angeles,” “Aspire to the Sky,” “Adira’s Dream,” “Depth of Pyaar,” “Legend White Ibex,” “Music Teacher,” “The Good Deed,” “Jo” and “Girl Falling.”

The Best Actor of a Feature Film was awarded to Kagiso Modupe for “Losing Lerato;” the Best Actor Featurette went to Jetinder Summan for “Damage” and The Best Actor Short Film was awarded to Jeff Locker for “Scars.”

The Best Actress Feature Film was awarded to Samela Tyelbooi for “Losing Lerato” and Best Actress Featurette went to Tara Moini for “Chances,” with Best Actress Short Film going to Janel Tana for “Intervention.”

The Best Performance by a Child was given to Tshimillo Modupe in “Losing Lerato.”

The Best Supporting Actor Feature Film was presented to Jason Alexander and Manny Hernandez for “Faith Based.”

The Best Supporting Actress Feature Film went to Mary Riitano in “Wuthering Heights.”

The Mary Austin Screenwriting, Producing and Directing Competition Awards was presented to Eileen Grubba.

The Best Ensemble Cast Feature Film was “The Wisdom Tooth.” The Best Ensemble Cast Featurette was awarded to “Ladies Most Deject;” the Best Ensemble Cast Short Film was “Is You Is.” The Best International Feature Film was “Song of Love;” the Best International Featurette was “Liam and May.” The Best International Short Film was “The Cunningman.” The Summerhawk Native Film Award was awarded to “Women of the White Buffalo.”

The Golden Era Humanitarian Award Narrative was given for “Losing Lerato,” and The Golden Era Best Feature and Documentary was awarded to “Women of the White Buffalo.”

The Best Documentary Featurette was named to “A Symphony of Hope,” while the Best Documentary Short was awarded to “Daydream.”

The Juan Ruiz Anchia Award/Best Cinematography Feature Film went to “Song of Love,” and the Juan Ruiz Anchia Award Best Cinematography Featurette ARXIV/Archive and Short Film was named to “Office Song.”

The Roger Taylor Award/Best Original Feature Film was awarded to “Losing Lerato;” and the Roger Taylor Award Best Original Score/Featurette ARXIVArchive and Short Film was presented to “The Last.”

For Special Visual Effects, “Phoenix Blue” was honored. The Andrea Charles Besty Children’s Film was awarded to “Dust Bunnies.” The Best Animation award was “Changes.” The Best New Media Award went to “Don’t Fear the Healer;”

The Best Screenplay Feature was “Interpreters.” The Best Screenplay Featurette was “2 Below 0.” The Best Screenplay Short was “The Box.” The WeSPARK Award went to “Eileen Grubba,” and the Faulkner Award was given to Capt. Leonard Purvis of Hemet’s Sheriff’s Station.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at