After a decade as one of Western Australia’s top documentary filmmakers, writer/director Alison’s debut foray into scripted filmmaking is a heartbreaking and visually stunning short film with no dialogue, which explores the real-life practice of camel culling using a tracking device in Australia.
The incredibly ambitious film stars eight camels and was filmed in a searing hot summer in remote desert locations in Western Australia, with a skeleton film crew and a team of camel wranglers who endured eight flat tyres, two bogged vehicles and a blown head gasket on the camel float.
Judas Collar took out the jury prize at the Awards Luncheon at AFF. There were 81 films that were selected for the AFF short narrative program from over 2700 short films submitted. The win means that Judas Collar now qualifies for entry into the 92nd Academy Awards in 2020.
Writer and direction, Alison James says: “It was an incredible honour to win the Austin Film Festival. Brooke and I attended four days of intensive masterclasses with some of the best writers in the world before receiving the Best Short Narrative Film award so we are both leaving motivated and inspired. At the award ceremony I was speaking with Oscar nominated writer Tony Gilroy, (Michael Clayton, The Bourne Identity) and his advice to me was simple: “Don’t take a day off. Write tomorrow. Even better, write tonight.”
“I think this is excellent advice and I take it to heart.”
Known as the “Writers Festival” since its inception 25 years ago, AFF recognises the importance of narrative at the core of filmmaking. By celebrating the work of storytellers; those committed to crafting intricate worlds, fully formed characters, and diverse perspectives, AFF bolsters its reputation as a champion for the creator.
Alison has also received a Special Mention for the ‘Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director’ at the 48th Sydney Film Festival Dendy Short Film Awards in July. Judas Collar was 1 of only 10 films, and the only Western Australian film, to be part of the prestigious Dendy program, which is the oldest short film competition in Australia.
Judas Collar has also been nominated for a 2018 AACTA Award (Australian Academy of Cinema and TV Arts) for Best Short Film. The AACTA Awards recognise film, television and documentary screencraft excellence. As Australia’s highest film and television Awards, the AACTA Awards are Australia’s equivalent of the Oscars® and the British Academy Film and Television Academy Awards (BAFTAs).
Judas Collar was funded through Western Australia’s state based film funding agency Screenwest through a highly competitive Elevate Initiative, which awards $70,000 to a director and producer team with a proven track record. The film was one of only six projects selected by an expert industry panel from 14 writer/producer/director teams who were shortlisted from 57 applications.
Producer, Brooke Silcox says, “The Award is testament to the talents of writer/ director Alison James and the incredible team involved. Alison changed the course of her life from documentary filmmaking to scripted after learning and being deeply effected by the Judas Collar practice in Australia. It goes to show that finding a voice for something you feel passionate about it can really make an impact. It is an absolute honour for Judas Collar to receive the award at the Austin Film Festival. We are excited about the Academy Award 2020 campaign we are now eligible to submit for.”