In Alison James’ short film, Judas Collar, hunters hope to gain an edge by equipping a camel with a tracking collar and setting it free to rejoin its pack as the “Judas.” With no words, Judas Collar tells the story of a camel’s fight for survival for not only itself but also the survival of its pack.
Judas Collar is a short film that visually rivals the storytelling techniques of the Disney Nature series by telling its story using the natural behaviors of the camels (I’m sure there were forced moments too). The short follows a single camel as it is captured and equipped with a Judas Collar. Once it returns to its herd, a helicopter appears and starts firing upon the dozen or so camels. Not wanting to waste effort, the hunters avoid killing the Judas, and it escapes only to cycle back and “betray” yet another herd.
“…equipping a camel with a tracking collar and setting it free to rejoin its pack as the ‘Judas.’“
Writer/director Alison James tells her story by taking her cameras to the Australian Outback. First, we see the obligatory (yet education) camel in its natural habitat, wandering the open desert eating brush and tree branches along the way. Creative editing is then used to show the social nature of camels as they communicate with one another. James is quite adept in this camera style and effectively tells her story, particularly in the moments when the lead Judas is pondering its predicament.
Visually the short film is stunning to watch. Great use of color with deep blue skies and the vibrant rust colors of the Australia arid desert climate. The short film is educational with an ending that feels like a story of legend but inspiring nonetheless. As fantastic as Judas Collar is, the camels aren’t exactly the most natural actors. Judas Collar is worth watching.
"…great use of color with deep blue skies and the vibrant rust colors..."
This was our jury win at Austin Film Festival and is definitely a contender for the Oscar shortlist. What an excellent piece of filmmaking and an elegant example of “Show Don’t Tell” craftsmanship for a worthwhile cause.