CalArts student wins top animation prize


By Sarah Sikandar 

Signal Staff Writer 

One grasshopper, one boot, an army of ants, and only one discarded plastic water bottle. Jingqi Zhang’s “Hopper’s Day” is a five-minute delightful snippet from an unseen world.  

Jingqi’s animation won the first prize at One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest, which is a part of One Earth collective aimed at creating opportunities for “understanding climate change, sustainability, and the power of human involvement.”  

Every year the festival invites young filmmakers – grade 3 through age 25 – to compete with original films that educate, spread awareness, and highlight topics around climate change and sustainability.  

Zhang, a CalArts senior learning character animation, is an enthusiastic story artist who holds a huge passion for animation. Her goal, she says, is to bring charming and relatable stories to the world.  

Hopper’s Day zooms into the infinitesimal struggle for resources in a predatory world. Hopper, the protagonist, finds a littered plastic water bottle, which becomes the object of contention. But he isn’t alone in his quest – there’s a colony of ants, a thirsty crow and a lizard. Viewers see empathy, charity and kindness, as the little hopper takes water to feed a garden hidden in a discarded boot. 

Zhang won $1,000 for the film, which she chose to split between Food and Water Watch and the Environmental Law and Policy Center.  

“My classmates are very, very talented. I feel my mind is free among them. Because they never deny an idea but always give support. And I got tons of good advice and feedback from my teacher Fran Krause. He is like the anchor of boats. Whenever I felt down or stuck, he was always calm and wise, easing our nerves,” she told The Signal. She hoped to make her own film or show one day.  

“Hopper’s Day,” and other winning films, premiered during a free online event, the Young Filmmakers Contest Award Celebration. For queries and donations visit  

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