Colette: the incredible story of a resistant Norman, awarded at the Oscars

The documentary won the Oscar for best documentary short. It traces the work of memory carried out by a young historian and a nonagenarian from Normandy whose brother, resistant like her, died in a concentration camp at the age of seventeen.

The story seems invented as befits a Hollywood production. And yet. Colette, a film dedicated to Colette Marin-Catherine, a 90-year-old former Norman resistance fighter who went in the footsteps of her brother who died in a concentration camp, was crowned, Sunday April 25, with the Oscar for best documentary short .

The adventure begins in 2019. Accompanied by Lucie Fouble, a seventeen-year-old volunteer at the Coupole d’Helfaut – a memorial center dedicated to the Second World War – Colette tried to reconstruct the career of Jean-Pierre Catherine, a deported resistance fighter. towards the Dora camp, where the Germans imprisoned men to manufacture the V2 missiles. The young man died there. “When Jean-Pierre Catherine was deported, he was seventeen. He died ten days after turning nineteen in Dora. I’ll have twenty soon. Jean-Pierre did not live until then», Lucie Fouble reports to The voice of the North .

Colette, “a fantastic personality”

American director and French documentary producer Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard discovered their story as they shot a series of portraits of WWII actors in Normandy in 2018. Chance encounter: they come across Colette Marin-Catherine, “a fantastic personality», Says Alice Doyard. Then emerges the idea of ​​following the nonagenarian in her quest. New blessed chance: Laurent Thiery, historian, who from La Coupole coordinates the drafting of Book of the 9000 deportees from France to Mittelbau-Dora, published in 2020, puts a name and a face on those who passed through the concentration camp. A notice concerns Jean-Pierre and the young Lucie is the author.

The film highlights this obsession for the truth, carried by the pain of a woman who has “Took seventy-five years to forget” the death of her brother and the concern of an apprentice historian of “pass on its history, not to forget the past “. Colette navigates between historical documentary and emotional film, discreetly highlighting the work of La Coupole, where we follow Lucie Fouble, especially at the beginning of the documentary. An enhancement underlined by the director of the institution, Philippe Queste: “The film values ​​the Book of 9,000, the work of a bright, youngest volunteer.

“Huge honor”

Despite the location, the story and the film crew, Colette has never been broadcast in France but it can be viewed on the site of Guardian who hosts it. The documentary was selected for the first time at the beginning of February, like ten others among the one hundred and fourteen productions in the running, to appear on the list of films potentially nominated for the Oscars. Several times sacred in the United States, Colette finally got his nomination, before being definitively honored last night. a “Immense honor”, for all the people who participated, directly or indirectly, in the making of the short film. With the statuette in hand, Alice Doyard was keen to dedicate “This award and this film […] to women of all ages, everywhere, who join hands and fight for justice. Long live Colette and long live France! ”

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Colette: the incredible story of a resistant Norman, awarded at the Oscars

Hank Gilbert