to become the sky: An Evening with Jess X. Snow

  • Thursday, April 18, 2024 / 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM (PDT)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: 2K digital projection
  • With Jess X. Snow (filmmaker)

The Carsey-Wolf Center, the Center for Feminist Futures, and the Department of Asian American Studies welcomed filmmaker Jess X. Snow for a screening of five of their short films. These multilingual films blur the boundaries between the coming-of-age drama, the romantic fantasy, and the experimental documentary, exploring themes such as migration, queer intimacy, intergenerational care, healing, sanctuary, the role of art in times of crisis, and climate justice through a dreamlike, queer, Asian-immigrant lens. In a capitalist world where Asians face the pressures of the model minority myth and are measured by the work they produce, how can leaning into desire, disobedience, and dreams allow us to become closer to our authentic selves?

This evening’s program featured the following films: Afterearth (14 min | 2018), Safe Among Stars (9 mins | 2019), Little Sky (14 min | 2021), I Wanna Become The Sky (12 min | 2023), and Roots That Reach Toward The Sky (15 min | 2023).

Filmmaker Jess X. Snow joined moderator Heidi Amin-Hong (English, UCSB) for a post-screening discussion.


Filmmaker Jess X. Snow

Jess X. Snow is a non-binary filmmaker, multi-disciplinary artist, and poet. They are a recent graduate of the directing MFA program at NYU, and were recently named one of Filmmaker Magazine‘s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. Their body of work reimagines queer Asian diaspora, kinship across cultures and species, mental health, and abolitionist futures.

photo credit: Andrew Migliori

English professor Heidi Amin-Hong stands against a background of green leafy trees. She is smiling, and wearing an orange cardigan sweater.

Moderator Heidi Amin-Hong

Heidi Amin-Hong is Assistant Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she researches and teaches in Asian American and Pacific Islander literature and culture, environmental humanities, and cultures of militarization. Her current book project, “Transpacific Contaminations: Ecological Aesthetics and Cold War Afterlives,” reimagines the Cold War’s environmental legacies through Asian American and Pacific Islander aesthetic interventions. She is co-editor of the edited collection Empire and Environment: Ecological Ruin in the Transpacific, which was published by the University of Michigan Press in October 2022.

Afterearth (14 min | 2018)

Hailing from Hawai’i, the Philippines, China, and North America, four women give offerings of song, poetry and gardening to preserve the volcano, ocean, land, and air for future generations. They draw their understandings of motherhood through connections with their homeland environment. Made to be an immersive three-channel documentary, this film was created by a mostly LGBTQ+ cast and crew of queer Asian/Pacific Islander elders and youth.

Safe Among Stars (9 mins | 2019)

A queer Chinese-American woman struggles to tell her immigrant mother why she left school. As her disassociation leads to teleportation abilities, she must learn how to master her powers.

Little Sky (14 min | 2021)

Drag sensation Sky returns to their hometown to confront their estranged father about the childhood memories that continue to haunt them.

I Wanna Become The Sky (12 min | 2023)

When a young student visits the studio of a charismatic artist to get her first tattoo, she is forced to confront a shared cultural secret that awakens the burgeoning force inside of her.

Roots That Reach Toward The Sky (17 min | 2023)

When her mother’s Chinese traditional medicine shop gets vandalized, Kai, a young botanist, is thrust in the middle of her immigrant mother’s grief and her muralist partner’s quest for community catharsis. Kai must confront the healing she most resists and her role in the community.

This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center, the Center for Feminist Futures,
and the Department of Asian American Studies Artist-in-Residence program.

Storytelling for the Screen

Since their emergence, cinema and television have been in a state of constant technological and industrial flux. But even as our ways of distributing and accessing moving images have changed, and even as tastes and styles continue shifting with the times, our passion for compelling onscreen storytelling persists. At the Carsey-Wolf Center, we are committed to fostering a nuanced understanding of cinematic and televisual storytelling across genres, formats, styles, and historical periods. To this end, we sponsor a wide range of events, programs, and workshops designed to cultivate a new generation of media storytellers, and to help audiences better understand the evolving role of narrative across diverse media forms.