At the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony over the weekend, the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject went to a 25-minute documentary called “Colette.” The unusual thing about this particular short documentary is that it was actually made for a video game. This triumph means this is the first Oscar win for the gaming industry (sort of).
“Colette” was directed by Anthony Giacchino, who collected the Oscar alongside producer Alice Doyard. It follows Colette Marin-Catherine, a former French Resistance fighter traveling to Germany for the first time in 74 years, accompanied by young historian Lucie Fouble. Specifically, she visits the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp where her brother Jean-Pierre died. Marin-Catherine turned 92 on the same day the film about her won an Oscar.
The short film was created for the game Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, in part by Respawn Entertainment, the developers of Medal of Honor, and also Oculus, the Facebook-owned VR company. The VR title is set in World War II and features a section called the Gallery. The Gallery has a number of live-action stories, like Colette’s, that give more detail about the people who survived the great conflict. The filmmakers thanked Respawn and Oculus for the opportunity to tell their story, and Giacchino said in his acceptance speech that Marin-Catherine was grateful that her brother was “no longer lost in the night and fog of the Nazi concentration camp system.”
This is of course a great win for gaming and those in the industry that have been jockeying for mainstream recognition. Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is not really named as part of the Oscar win — and one could argue it’s not the game itself winning anything. That said, it’s still good to see the Academy recognize VR and games as a platform for short films and stories.