Documentary series from No Festival Required to showcase the impact of music, emotions

Steve Weiss (Alexandra Scoville/DD)
Steve Weiss and No Festival Required are premiering a series of documentaries at Phoenix Center for the Arts through May. “Sweet Dreams,” the first film in the series, will show Sunday, Feb. 16. (Alexandra Scoville/DD)

The Phoenix Center for the Arts is hosting a Sunday matinee music-oriented documentary film series from No Festival Required throughout the spring.

“Music is the universal language, but it’s also a nice avenue for a Sunday afternoon,” No Festival Required executive director Steve Weiss said.

Weiss created No Festival Required in 2002 because he saw all of the arts except film coming into place in downtown Phoenix. He started organizing short film screenings and now primarily shows documentary films.

“Documentary films work well for illuminating an exhibit and they have the potential to teach, change and entertain all at the same time,” Weiss said.

The film series will run through May, with the first film “Sweet Dreams” showing on Sunday, Feb. 16. There will be a film each month.

“Sweet Dreams” is a documentary about Rwanda’s first and only all-female drumming troupe and their efforts to heal from Rwanda’s past genocide, according to the film’s official website. The troupe worked to build a new future for themselves as they opened Rwanda’s first and only ice cream shop, which they named Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams).

This is not the first time that Weiss and the center have collaborated.

“No Festival required is definitely our primary film partner,” Poenix Center for the Arts director Joseph Benesh said.

Benesh said he is excited for the series of films to be shown at the center in the upcoming months.

“Especially with films like these, I think that it can have an impact. There’s a story that needs to be told, and I think that these films really have that in common,” Benesh said.

The event is supported by four sponsors: David Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc.; Steve Hanson, CEO and owner of Grip Ideas, a Phoenix-based business development firm; and Carla Wade, co-owner of the restaurant Carly’s Bistro.

Sponsors joined Weiss’ effort because of their hopes for the community’s future.

“We’re trying to focus on smaller initiatives that we think will really connect with the community that lives in and around downtown,” Krietor said.

Weiss selected all of the films that are being shown in the series. His host and sponsors trust his choices.

“Steve chose everything,” Benesh said. “Phoenix Center for the Arts doesn’t practice censorship, so I can’t imagine us ever seeing something that we wouldn’t be OK with.”

Weiss chose “Sweet Dreams” and his other films because of the range of emotions that the films run through.

“I like a film that has a lot of levels to it,” Weiss said.

Hanson praised Weiss’ choices of films for their topics and effects on the audience.

“The films that No Festival Required selects are those that are thought-provoking and educational and encourage people to think about their lives, both individually and globally,” Hanson said. “We need to support different thinking and thinking creatively. The types of films I know Steve picks are those types of films.”

Weiss is constantly open to new films. He worked as a film location scouter for 20 years and is still in touch with a number of film distributors and is on art house cinema mail lists, Weiss said.

“I keep my ear to the rail,” Weiss said. “I am always looking for films.”

“Sweet Dreams” will show at the Phoenix Center for the Arts at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16. Tickets cost $7.

Correction Feb. 14, 2014:

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the No Festival Required Sunday matinee film series had three sponsors. It has a fourth, General Dentistry of David R Weiss DDS.

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