Steve Weiss to Program Films at SMoCA

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It didn't take long for indie film programmer Steve Weiss to find his next gig. 

The cineaste and organizer of No Festival Required, who left the programming position at FilmBar earlier this month, recently announced he will begin booking films and documentaries at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts starting this fall.  

Weiss says that the screenings will kick off in November inside the soon-to-be-open SMoCA Lounge (which will be unveiled in October) and will complement the museum's upcoming exhibitions in the months ahead.

"They essentially will be films that will be thoughtful, entertaining, and will help add another layer to the exhibits in the museum," Weiss says.

SMoCA spokesperson Leslie Oliver says that four films that will be selected by Weiss for screening in the lounge, each of which will "integrates the same ideas" being touched upon by the museum's offering during the fall and spring seasons.

"We intend the [SMoCA] Lounge to have a lot of offerings that will be conversational pieces that surround the things that maybe they just saw in the museum," she says. "It's one of the reasons we're so excited to get the SMoCA Lounge is to have our own space where we could show films for people to watch and get a larger sense of the projects. Sometimes we've screened them on a wall inside of the gallery, which was cumbersome as it had to be seen around the sculptures."

Weiss says the first film feature will be the documentary A Man Named Pearl, which documents a memorial topiary garden that was erected by a southern gardener in a fight against racism. The film will be shown during the time SMoCA will feature its People's Biennial, which will feature a showcase of outsider art.

"A lot of times some of our offerings are inspiring or they're giving him ideas of other things that might lead a viewer that goes in and sees the show like Peoples Biennial to think more broadly about other people in their community or other artists around the country or that they've come across that fit into that category through films like A Man Named Pearl," Oliver says.

The second film in the series will be Of Dolls and Murders, a documentary narrated by John Waters that depicts the miniature dioramas depicting crime scenes that were created in the 1930s and 1940s by elderly artist Frances Glessner Lee of Baltimore. These same miniatures incorporated a good deal of forensic science and were even referenced by crime show CSI.

"There's an audience that will really like it from the CSI point of view or from the detective and the forensics point of view. Another set of people will like it for the artistic part with the miniatures, and all the detail that goes into it," Oliver says.

The doll-like corpses depicted in these dioramas are not unlike the bodies that are splayed throughout the photography of Seattle's Kiki Smith. It's why Weiss chose to screen Of Dolls and Murder in February during the the exhibition of her "I Myself Have Seen It" show.

Smith -- who's known for her sculptures, drawing, and prints of people, totem animals, and fantasy images -- will display a series of snapshots she used to model and inspire her work. It includes eeire photos of models posed as corpses or in diorama-like staged narratives.

Oliver says that the SMoCA folks are also working with Weiss to find a film that will "compliment the offerings that we'll be having" during Modern Phoenix Week in April.

"I think what's really distinctive and fun for not only us but for [Weiss] in that he is at that level with his knowledge of film, especially film that doesn't always reach a wider audience or that's harder to get to or harder to find," Oliver says. "I certainly think that it's definitely a boon to us to have such a bright creative person wanting to work with us in this way."

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