CalArts Student Wins First Prize at One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest

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Jingqi Zhang, a BFA 3 Character Animation student in the CalArts School of Film/Video, recently won a $1,000 first prize for her five-minute animated film Hopper’s Day, entered in the annual One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest.  

Sponsored by the One Earth Film Festival, the Midwest’s premier environmental film festival, the contest asks students from third grade through postgraduate school to submit three- to eight- minute films about environmental subjects that inspire action or change. Zhang placed first for animation in the college group for the Young Children’s Short Film program. Her winning short screened during the festival’s recent run (March 4 – 13).

Hopper’s Day focuses on environmental issues and resource competition in a world of predation. She further describes the film: 

“Water is a precious resource in an abandoned quarry, where a small grasshopper competes for access with an army of ants while trying to avoid a hungry crow and lizard. The water Hopper wants is not just a selfish desire, but for a glorious garden oasis hidden in an old boot. A lush musical score begins when water finally reaches the garden, where flowers miraculously emerge.”

In addition to the individual prize, each contest winner gets a matching grant to donate to an environmental nonprofit that syncs with their film’s theme. Zhang split her second $1,000 between Food & Water Watch and the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Zhang has worked as a storyboard artist and animator for multiple short films. She said it is the best media for her to “express her thoughts and feelings.”

“I feel free when I am drawing or [working on] other creative animated shorts,” Jingqi said. “I can connect to others.”

Zhang shared a teaser of her film on her Twitter. Accompanying her animation, Roy Berardo (Music BFA 20) composed music for the film. 

The film, which was made as Zhang’s third year film for CalArts, was screened at the CalArts Open Show in April 2021 along with her second-year film Aging. Both films can be viewed on Vimeo, with Aging starting at 11:14 and Hopper’s Day starting at 1:56:39. 

Ishika Muchhal

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