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Facebook’s Oculus, EA and Respawn Win Game Industry’s First Oscar for ‘Colette’ Documentary Short

Colette - Facebook Oculus, Respawn
Facebook Oculus/Respawn

Facebook just won its first Oscar.

Colette,” from the social giant’s Oculus Studios and EA’s Respawn Entertainment game studio, picked up the trophy for documentary short subject Sunday at the 93rd Academy Awards. It’s also the first project from the game industry to win an Oscar.

The 25-minute film follows former French Resistance member Colette Marin-Catherine as she travels to Germany for the first time in 74 years. “Colette” was created for the World War II-set VR video game “Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond.”

“Colette” beat out the other contenders on the category: “A Concerto Is a Conversation,” from Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers; “Do Not Split,” from Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook; “Hunger Ward,” from Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman; and “A Love Song for Latasha,” from Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan.

In “Colette,” written and directed by Anthony Giacchino and produced by Alice Doyard, Marin-Catherine’s visit to the past is inspired by a young history student, Lucie Fouble, who enters her life and convinces her to visit the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp where the Nazis killed her brother.

Marin-Catherine’s birthday is on April 25 — she turned 92 on Sunday.

“Thank you Colette and Lucie for sharing your story,” the filmmakers tweeted Sunday night. “Thank you to the Academy. Thank you to @ea @guardian @oculus and @respawn for believing in this project. Thank you to everyone who has supported this film. We’re honored beyond words.”

“The real hero here is Colette herself, who has shared her story with integrity and strength. As we see in the film, resistance takes courage, but facing one’s past may take even more,” Mike Doran, Oculus Studios director of production, wrote in a blog post. “Allowing us to preserve this pilgrimage for future generations was a true act of bravery and trust.”

The streaming rights to “Colette” were acquired by the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, which debuted the film on its site in November 2020, the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials. “Colette” is available to stream for free on the Guardian site (at this link) and on YouTube (at this link), as well as on Facebook’s Oculus TV (at this link).

“Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond” blends gameplay together with several short films — including “Colette” — focused on stories of war veterans. Players in the game assume the role of an Allied agent of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) tasked with infiltrating, outgunning and outsmarting the Nazi war machine.

Giacchino’s previous documentary, “The Giant’s Dream” (Warner Bros. Pictures), tells the story behind Oscar-winning director Brad Bird’s first feature film, “The Iron Giant.” Giacchino is currently working on an untitled World War II project set for the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.

“Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond” is executive produced by Respawn’s Peter Hirschmann, who previously was executive producer and VP of product development at LucasArts overseeing development of games for Star Wars, Indiana Jones and other intellectual property.