Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Electronic Arts are celebrating an Oscar victory in the most unlikely of categories…Best Documentary Short Subject.
Colette, directed by Anthony Giacchino and produced by Alice Doyard, was co-produced by Facebook-owned Oculus Studios and Electronic Arts’ Respawn Entertainment. The Guardian newspaper acquired and distributed the film, which tells a story out of World War II and the French Resistance. It is the first Oscar for Oculus and Respawn, as well as for The Guardian, according to a publicist for the film.
“I want to thank our amazing E.P., Peter Hirschmann, at Electronic Arts, everyone at Electronic Arts and Respawn,” Giacchino said during his acceptance speech, “and Oculus, especially Vince, Dusty and Mara.” He also saluted Charlie Phillips, head of video at The Guardian.
Colette is available as an add-on experience within EA’s Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, a member of the filmmaking team tells Deadline. The video game is described as “an action-packed, immersive VR experience set in World War II, where you step into the boots of an agent of the office of Strategic Services (OSS) in war-torn Europe. A deep single-player campaign takes you through historic events on land, air, and sea, sabotaging Nazi bases, subverting enemy plans, aiding the French Resistance, and much, much more.”
Incorporating the story of Colette was meant to add historical verisimilitude and a factual basis to the game experience. Interviews with World War II veterans are also featured as adds on.
Colette premiered at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in February 2020, before the video game came out. The film’s title character, Colette Marin-Catherine, was a teenage Résistante during the war, as was her older brother, 17-year-old Jean-Pierre.
“We were playing cat and mouse,” Colette admits in the documentary. “And playing with fire. Or rather, fire was playing with us.”
Jean-Pierre was captured by the Nazis and dispatched to the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp near Nordhausen, Germany, where he and 20,000 other forced laborers were worked to death building arms for the Nazi war machine.
In the film, Colette visits what remains of the camp for the first time, joined by a young history student, Lucie Fouble.
Colette, who lives in Caen, France, near the D-Day landing site, turned 92 on Oscar Sunday.
“She was born just 22 days before the very first Oscars in 1929,” Giacchino noted during his acceptance speech. “When we got nominated she reminded us that the power of documentary filmmaking ensured that her brother, Jean-Pierre, as she put it, was no longer lost in the night and fog of the Nazi concentration camp system.”
Check out Giacchino and Doyard’s acceptance speech above. Their appearance backstage can be viewed below.
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