No Festival Required Launches Valley’s First Architectural Film Showcase this Spring

M.V. MoorheadMarch 9, 2023
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Still from The Proposal, a film by Jill Magid

Steve Weiss loves film, and he loves architecture. He also loves Arizona. So, it’s only natural that Weiss would get around to launching the Arizona Architectural Film Showcase. The all-day series presents three indie documentaries on architectural themes on Saturday, April 22; two of them during the day at Phoenix Center for the Arts Third Street Theater, and a third as an outdoor screening that evening at Park Central Arts Pavilion.

There’s no shortage of film festivals in the Phoenix area, but up until now that hasn’t included one on architecture. For Steve Weiss, the man behind the Valley’s long-running “No Festival Required” film series, this is a serious omission.

Other communities have them, he notes: “Right next door, there’s the Palm Springs Architecture and Design Film Festival, and certainly in New York, Los Angeles and the Northwest you can find these events.” Yet Phoenix is rich in architectural diversity.

“We are surrounded by practically every type of architecture… from historic to prehistoric, from vintage to 21st Century contemporary,” Weiss says. “Some of my favorites [are] the individualistic and eccentric, like Tovrea Castle and Mystery Castle.”

And in this tradition, the Architectural Film Showcase will bring us three films about individualistic and eccentric architectural stories.

First, at 10 a.m., is Americaville, by Adam James Smith. It concerns a replica of Jackson Hole, Wyoming built in the mountains of China. The film follows a woman’s attempt to attain an American lifestyle in this strange planned community experiment. The director is scheduled to participate in a Q&A via Skype after the film.

Then at 2 p.m. is The Proposal, Jill Magid’s personal documentary on access to the legacy of Mexican architect Luis Barragán. A panel discussion will follow the film.

The outdoor movie is The Competition, by Angel Borrego Cubero, a chronicle of five internationally famous architects contending with each other for the commission to design Andorra’s National Museum. It’s free to attend; audience members may bring their own chairs or rent one online prior to the event.

“The beauty of the films selected is that they are decidedly not conventional documentaries,” Weiss says. “They’re also mystery stories, with non-traditional story arcs.”

Weiss is keeping the inaugural event modest with an option to expand it in the future.

“We’re sticking our toe in the water,” he says. “It will be interesting to see if the people that turn out for the home tours and seminars will appreciate the films presented.”

Individual tickets are $12 in advance; $15 at the door; an advance pass is $20. Go to for details.