Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard interview: ‘Colette’
“Humanity needs to remember these things in order to survive,” declares Anthony Giacchino, the director of “Colette.” The documentary about an elderly woman confronting a traumatic past has been nominated for Best Documentary Short at this year’s Oscars. The film was originally featured as part of the “Medal of Honor” video game franchise and is the first film from the video game industry to receive an Oscar nomination. Watch our exclusive video interview with Giacchino and producer Alice Doyard above.
The film follows Colette Marin-Catherine, a member of the French Resistance whose brother Jean-Pierre died in a German concentration camp during World War II. A young history student named Lucie joins Colette as she travels to Germany for the first time in more than seven decades. The movie documents Colette’s emotional struggles as she visits both the concentration camp and the crematorium where her brother likely perished.
In a fascinating bit of Oscar trivia, Colette was born a mere 22 days before the first Oscar ceremony and will celebrate her 93rd birthday on April 25, the same day as this year’s ceremony. Asked how Colette feels about this coincidence, Doyard says the the nonagenarian is one of the film’s biggest fans and thinks of the crew as members of her family, even calling a photograph of herself and the creative team a “family picture.”
One of the film’s most emotional moments occurs when Colette and Lucie arrive go inside the crematorium where Colette’s brother perished. Giacchino keeps the camera outside of the crematorium, but the audience hears Colette’s expressions of sorrow and anguish. Giacchino explains that after going into the crematorium by himself, he made a deliberate choice to let Colette and Lucie go inside without a camera. “That was sort of like the end of the trip for them that they needed to experience together, and without a camera, without anyone watching them,” he says.
Both Doyard and Giacchino believe that documentary films have something unique to offer in that they reveal a side of life that not everyone sees or wants to see. “I’ve always thought that I would do fiction because I love stories,” explains Doyard. “But I must say that so far, I’ve always made documentaries because the reality that I encountered was more striking than stories that could be written or filmed.” Giacchino agrees, saying that the journey of Lucie and Colette feels like it could have been written. “Colette and Lucie took a chance with us,” he says, “and surprised not only us but themselves as well.”