Earlier this week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® announced the nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards. Among those recognized in the category of Documentary Short Subject was Colette, a documentary featured in Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond. The film follows Colette Marin-Catherine, one of the last surviving members of the French Resistance, as she travels, for the first time, to the remains of the slave-labor camp where her brother died during World War II. And it represents the first ever Academy Award nomination for Respawn Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Oculus Studios, and the video game industry.
As Colette was being completed in 2019, the studios recognized the cinematic value and timely message of the film and decided to share it with the world before the game was released. The film premiered at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in February 2020 where it won Best Documentary short, qualifying it for an Oscar nomination. That was the first of several festival awards. It also had a theatrical release at Maysles Documentary Center. In partnership with Respawn Entertainment, Electronic Arts, and Oculus Studios, Colette was distributed by The Guardian documentaries, where it’s streaming worldwide. This is the first Oscar-nominated documentary produced by a gaming company and distributed by a news organization.
“At its core, the Medal of Honor franchise is about authenticity—using both the interactive and cinematic nature of video games to make history come alive in some small way,” says Peter Hirschmann, who wrote and directed the original Medal of Honor and returned to write and direct Above and Beyond. “These were real people, thrust into extraordinary circumstances. It’s an honor and a privilege to help preserve their stories and our shared historical legacy for future generations.”
In the 75 years following the end of the war, Marin-Catherine never stepped foot in Germany, refusing to engage in any form of trauma tourism. But after meeting a young history student named Lucie Fouble, she decided to make the difficult journey as a means of honoring her brother’s memory. It’s a story of the bravery needed to put one’s demons to rest—and the redemption to be found in human connection and compassion.
“We originally met Colette while scouting filming locations in France,” recalls filmmaker Anthony Giacchino. “It was imperative that we go beyond the use of archival footage because we’re running out of time to preserve these oral histories. Whether this documentary wins or loses, we’re fortunate to have heard Colette’s story and played a small part in bringing healing to one of the last survivors of the French Resistance and all it stood for.”