Villanova graduate from Burlington Co. wins Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject for 'Colette'

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Villanova University graduate from Burlington County, New Jersey is still basking in the glow of his first Oscar win.

Anthony Giacchino won Best Documentary Short Subject for his work on "Colette".

The filmmaker's story started in South Jersey and brought him to Normandy where he met Colette, a woman on her pilgrimage to the Nazi concentration camp site in Germany where her brother perished in 1945.

Sunday was Colette's 92nd birthday and the day her story would earn Giacchino and his team their very first Academy Award.

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The 93rd Academy Awards looked much different because of COVID protocol and precautions, but, like any other year, Hollywood's biggest night served up a lot of surprises.

Giacchino's Oscar is just one of his treasured keepsakes from his award winning night.

"I also got a picture with Harrison Ford at the Oscars, which was the highlight for me. I told him if my 12-year-old self could see me holding this Oscar standing next to you, Harrison Ford, my head would explode," he said.

His brother Michael also won an Oscar for Best Original Score in 2010 for Disney/Pixar's film "Up."

"As kids, we used to ride our bikes around Edgewater Park and talk about coming up with a scheme where somehow we could invite Steven Spielberg over for dinner," said Giacchino.

He went to Holy Cross High School and then Villanova University, where the history buff would carry around a tape recorder.

A few years ago, he was commissioned to create content for the virtual-reality video game Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond. That's when he found Colette, one of the last surviving members of the French Resistance.

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From Chloe Zhao and Yuh-Jung Youn's history-making Oscar wins to Thomas Vinterberg's emotional tribute to his daughter, these were the night's most memorable moments.

"I said, I think this is really one of the most emotional things I've ever filmed before," he said.

So Giacchino turned it into a documentary that won a smaller film festival, enough to qualify it for an Oscar.

"All of the big festivals, said, 'No thank you.'," he recalled.

The Academy gave it their top prize and Giacchino is holding that extra close as he heads home.

"I'm not going to check this," he said with a laugh.

No. That award is certainly carry-on luggage.

Anthony tells Action News that in Colette's story we learn that we must always confront our past, as hard as it is. For his own journey, he says to work hard, dream hard and know that it only takes one "yes."

In his case, that's an Oscar.
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