“CODA,” a touching drama that became the toast of the virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival, is coming to the big and small screen this summer.
The movie, centering on a teenager who is the only hearing member of her family, is slated to debut in theaters and on Apple TV Plus on Aug. 13. It’s unclear, however, the kind of theatrical rollout that will greet the film since it’s opening simultaneously on a streaming service.
In any case, Apple certainly hopes “CODA” gets as many eyeballs as possible. The company emerged victorious in a heated bidding war, shelling out a record-setting $25 million for rights to the film.
Though Sundance didn’t take place in person due to the pandemic, excitement surrounding “CODA,” written and directed by Siân Heder, was palpable. It received glowing reviews and nabbed a record four awards at the festival: the special jury award for ensemble cast, the directing award, the audience award and the grand jury prize.
In Variety’s review of “CODA,” chief film critic Owen Gleiberman called the movie a “gem.”
“In many ways, it’s a highly conventional film, with tailored story arcs that crest and resolve just so, and emotional peaks and valleys that touch big fat rounded chords of inspiration,” he wrote. “Yet the movie brings this all off with such sincerity and precision, and the film is so enthrallingly well-acted, that you may come away feeling grateful that this kind of mainstream dramatic craftsmanship still exists.”
“CODA,” a remake of the French film “La Famille Belier,” captures the internal struggle of 17-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones), who helps her deaf parents and brother run the family’s fishing business but dreams of going to music school and pursing a singing career. For Heder, it was important that “CODA” (an acronym for Children of Deaf Adults) had inclusive casting. Along with hearing actors Jones and Eugenio Derbez, the film features deaf actors Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant in key roles.
Apple TV Plus, which launched in 2019 and fielded the popular TV series “The Morning Show,” has been ramping up its film slate. Some of its originals include Sofia Coppola’s “On the Rocks,” “Greyhound” with Tom Hanks” and the Academy Award-nominated animated adventure “Wolfwalkers.”
Heder, who previously worked with Apple on the television show “Little America,” wanted to collaborate with the streamer because of its global reach. Accessibility is especially important, Heder notes, because Hollywood doesn’t often spotlight authentic stories about deaf people.
“Apple said, ‘We don’t want this to be a movie, we want this to start a movement,’” Heder told Variety in February. “I felt they have a real commitment to the film as part of a bigger change.”
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