The Shepherds of Cat Island

PAMA 2018 Movies 06/02/2018




Written by Attila Rostas


The movie is listed to the 2018 PAMA for :
– Best Short Script (unproduced)


Based on true events, The Shepherds of Cat Island, is a continuous, single take drama that puts individual and collective responsibility under microscope to examine systematic prejudice and racial tension in the midst of WWII. A strong German shepherd runs across an open clearing. Major DeWitt is in charge of conditioning the animal and the Japanese-American Nisei soldiers for the scheduled government inspection. Shortly after the agents arrive, the project leader, Mr. Prestre, sends out Williamson, a Caucasian, and Shindo, a Japanese-American soldier to hide in the woods. The German shepherd is trained to follow and hunt down only the Japanese-American. The dog leaves after the two ‘dog baits’, and as we follow the Major’s steps around the deserted landscape, the secret military project gradually reveals its characters and core theory that it was built upon. Soldiers and leaders, dogs and trainers, White- and Japanese-Americans construe this hidden but true piece of history that may help us to navigate among contemporary interpretations of patriotism and basic human rights.



The script has been selected to the following festivals prior to the PAMA :

  • Manhattan Short Film Festival
    Global Film Festival
    September 22, 2017
  • CINEQUEST Screenwriting Competition
    San Jose
    February 27, 2018
  • Sacramento International Film Festival – American Screenwriting Conference
    April 9, 2018




Writer Biography – Attila Rostas

Attila Rostas is a multiple Award winning Hungarian born American Writer, Director and Producer with strong emphases on social injustice, human biases and prejudice in his filmmaking body. Attila holds a University Degree in Economics and Diplomatic Services from Europe, and an MBA in International Business from Pace University in New York City. During his studies he took a study trip to the European Union in Brussels and did voluntary work for the United Nations in New York City where he got exposed to the disconnectedness of politics and social responsibility. After working in several countries in the corporate World, Attila enrolled to New York Film Academy then finished his film studies at SF Film School in San Francisco.
His very first short film in film school Gloomy Sunday was already selected and screened at international film festivals in Barcelona and New York City, his next narrative film, The Audition was screened at festivals in Hollywood, Toronto, and Pori, Finland. His thesis film, the multiple award winner Silentium Dei, is a single take, continuous drama about violence chauvinism and human brutality. The film screened over 20 festivals including Raindance Film Festival in London, Brooklyn Film Festival in New York, Los Angeles, Edinburgh, Tehran, Budapest, Eindhoven, Thessaloniki, and Tirana among many other places. The Shepherds of Cat Island is Attila’s conscious step toward his debut feature film in development about the Japanese-American internment in California during WWII.


Writer Statement

In 1942 October, with the approval of President F.D. Roosevelt, 26 Japanese-American Nisei soldiers were transferred from Camp McCoy, Wisconsin to the Mexican Bay for a Secret Military Project. The Nisei participated in the so-called ‘War Dog Project’ to train special dogs for the military aiming to help the battles on the Pacific. The project on Cat Island was implemented on the theory that Japanese descents smell different from Caucasians, therefore dogs can be trained to smell that ‘Japanese scent’. When the project did not meet the expectations, the leaders, William A. Prestre and the U.S. Army, carried out even more brutal training methods to deliver results. The film portrays the American battlefield during WWII., not on foreign but domestic soil.
I came across the infamous War Dog Projects of the U.S. Army while doing research for my debut feature which is in development, about the Japanese internment in America during WWII. I was staggered by the facts, how irresponsibly the government approved such a controversial theory about Japanese-American citizens, and how quickly they put that misconception into practice. I was even more appalled by the aftermath of the failed project. No remorse, no regret, no public apology. Recent shifts in the American political landscape stirred up the multicultural melting pot in our society. The ever-increasing witch-hunt of immigrants started to dominate the political and other public rhetoric. The definitions of national and individual safety became unclear again. Being an immigrant myself, The Shepherds of Cat Island is my direct reflection on the manipulative nature of this persistent political myopia.