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Stanton Graduates' Short Film Wins International Competition

From The Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs

Two Jacksonville girls are celebrating a $1,500 dollar prize for their short film about recycling.

Gloria Li and Robin Zeng’s eight-minute short, “All Bottled Up,” was one of more than a thousand submissions from around the world to the International Ocean Awareness Student Contest.

The college freshmen are hoping to use the extra cash to further their mission of educating people about the importance of sustainability.

Stanton College Preparatory School graduates Robin Zeng and Gloria Li have been friends since the age of five. So, after Li returned from a humanitarian trip to Costa Rica with a deeper interest in sustainability, she says it was only natural they’d work together to share that interest with others.

“We worked together on basically everything,” Li said. “The project has been evolving through different stages. We built a recycling bin. We went out to various elementary and middle schools to spread the word about recycled art — marrying creativity and conservation.”

Eventually Li says their fledgling Bottle Project culminated in a short film about two plastic bottles meeting, à la “When Harry Met Sally.”

Eventually the far-flung Evian and Dasani water bottles find their way into the recycling for a happily ever after in “All Bottled Up.”

Both Li and Zeng were pleasantly surprised by the the film’s positive local reception. It was so good, Li decided to submit the film to Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Program’s International Student Contest, but she thought it was a longshot. So much so she didn't even bother to tell Zeng she entered.

But after getting the news of their win, Li called Zeng who now says it gives their project a renewed sense of purpose.

Zeng said, “With the award it’s really told us that we can continue it in its current form in some way or another and we can definitely make the distant work I feel.”

Li and Zeng started college this fall at the University of Florida and Dartmouth, respectively.

They say they hope to use the prize money to expand their conservation efforts in the future, despite the distance between them.

Watch the Li and Zeng's short film, "All Bottled Up" below.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.