still from "Fight to the Finish"The Second World War feature Fight to the Finish is nominated for a Canadian Screen Award as Best History Documentary.

Professors honoured with documentary award nomination

Film professors Kim Nelson and Nick Hector are honoured that a feature they worked on was nominated for an award as Best History Documentary last week by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

Dr. Nelson story edited and Prof. Hector co-produced and edited Fight to the Finish, which shares the memories and thoughts of more than 50 Canadian Second World War veterans, while viewers watch footage of the war itself, much of it in colour.

The film aired on the History Channel on Nov. 11, 2020, as part of its coverage of the 75th anniversary of the close of the war.

“It was a moving experience to work with the raw and honest testimony of these WWII veterans and a pleasure to be part of a filmmaking team that approached the topic with such depth and nuance,” says Nelson.

Hector says the creative challenge was extraordinary.

“Crafting a coherent and engaging national narrative of six years of war from more than 50 personal testimonies was extremely difficult,” he says.

He notes that the lived experience of war is very different from what is seen in the movies.

“War is horrific, confusing, and senseless. It’s also often intensely myopic,” says Hector. “Soldiers are fighting for their lives, for their comrades’ lives. They rarely have the luxury of being able to see the shape of history. Our task was to find the grand narrative in these personal stories. I’m very happy with the result. I hope that we have honoured this extraordinary material.”

The film was reviewed in the Globe & Mail by television critic John Doyle, who wrote: “Fight to the Finish is essential viewing, an exceptional and profoundly meaningful hour of plain talk about that war.”

The Canadian Screen Awards are scheduled for virtual ceremonies in the week of May 17. The other nominees in the Best History Documentary category are: Cheating Hitler: Surviving the Holocaust; Samuel L. Jackson’s Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade; and Unabomber: In His Own Words.

“It’s a thrill being in competition with Samuel L. Jackson’s Enslaved,” says Hector. “He’s a truly gifted artist and has made a very important film. I hope he wins!”

—Susan McKee

Watch a clip from Fight to the Finish on YouTube: