Press RoomPhoenix Art Museum releases final film in short-film series celebrating its 60-year history

Phoenix Art Museum releases final film in short-film series celebrating its 60-year history

Phoenix Art Museum releases final film in short-film series celebrating its 60-year history
Feb, 05, 2021

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Phoenix Art Museum releases final film in short-film series celebrating its 60-year history

Made possible by The Steele Foundation, Represent has received national and international attention since 2020

PHOENIX (February 5, 2021) –Phoenix Art Museum has released the final film in a three-part series of short films created in honor of the Museum’s 60-year history. The series, made possible through funding provided by The Steele Foundation as part of a Museum initiative to innovate and deepen its digital engagement, was developed by the Museum in collaboration with Arizona-based filmmakers, including local writers, directors, actors, editors, and crew members. The series’ third film, Represent, premiered online today on The First Time and Wish You Were There, the first and second films in the series, respectively, are also available on the Museum’s website.

“We are thrilled to bring Represent, the final film in our celebratory 60th-anniversary series, to our community,” said Tim Rodgers, PhD, the Museum’s Sybil Harrington Director and CEO. “We are deeply grateful to The Steele Foundation, whose generosity made it possible for the Museum to highlight local filmmakers while sharing the story of this city’s art museum, which has been the heart of arts and culture in Arizona for more than 60 years.”

In 2017, Phoenix Art Museum developed a new initiative to innovate and strengthen online engagement with its community. Through the generosity of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, the Museum developed a new, comprehensive, and fully bilingual website, featuring a mobile-responsive design and custom content in both English and Spanish. The new site launched in March 2020, just prior to the Museum’s extended closure necessitated by COVID-19. The Steele Foundation also provided support for the Museum’s new bilingual site, along with additional funding to support both photography of the Museum’s collection for the institution’s virtual catalogue of artworks and the development of a short-film series.

Initially, Museum staff planned to create a documentary-style film about the history of Phoenix Art Museum. However, as they began their work with Arizona-based filmmakers Chris Heck, Kieran Thompson, and Josh Gonzales, the project grew to reflect the Museum’s long history and deep impact, resulting in not one film but three, the first of which, entitled The First Time, was written as a love letter from the Museum to the community it serves, and the second of which, Wish You Were There, tells the story of an older couple on a first date at Phoenix Art Museum.

The third and final film, Represent, follows a teenage boy through Phoenix Art Museum during a school field trip, an experience that yields an unexpected effect. Written and directed by Chris Heck, who wrote Wish You Were There and directed The First Time, the film explores the power and importance of representation in museum spaces and features Mykhal Polite in his first film. Represent premiered at the Providence Children’s Film Festival in Rhode Island, where it received the 2020 Hasbro Children’s Hospital Audience Choice Award. The film was also selected for the 2020 New York International Children’s Film Festival, an Oscar-qualifying festival, and the Pasadena International Film Festival. Represent additionally made its international debut in 2020 at the International Changing Perspectives Film Festival in Istanbul, Turkey; was featured at the PRIDE Queer Film Festival in Perth Australia; and was presented at the Festival Brasil de Cinema Internacional, where it won for Best Production and was nominated for Best Short Film and Best Actor: Mykhal Polite. 

Represent is the culmination of a tremendously rewarding journey to tell the story of Phoenix Art Museum as well as the stories of those who have long supported our institution,” said Nikki DeLeon Martin, the Museum’s Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer, who oversaw the institution’s film-series project and who wrote the series’ first film, The First Time. “We are honored to have shared this experience with so many individuals, from everyone at The Steele Foundation, to the writers, actors, directors, producers, and more who brought these stories to life, to those who volunteered to participate in filming various scenes. This film series belongs to our community, without whom this Museum would not exist today.”

To view all three films (The First Time, Wish You Were Here, and Represent) in the Museum’s 60th-anniversary short-film series, click here.

For more information about the film series and Phoenix Art Museum, contact the Museum’s Communications Office at 602.307.2003 or The Phoenix Art Museum short-film series was made possible through the generosity of The Steele Foundation.

About Phoenix Art Museum

Since 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has provided millions of guests with access to world-class art and experiences in an effort to ignite imaginations, create meaningful connections, and serve as a brave space for all people who wish to experience the transformative power of art. Located in Phoenix’s Central Corridor, the Museum is a vibrant destination for the visual arts and the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. Each year, more than 300,000 guests engage with critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions and the Museum’s collection of more than 20,000 works of American and Western American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. The Museum also presents a comprehensive film program, live performances, and educational programs designed for visitors of all ages, along with vibrant photography exhibitions made possible through the Museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit, or call 602.257.1880.

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