- Title: 'CODA' breaks new ground for Deaf movie theater goers
- Date: 8th August 2021
- Summary: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (FILE - APRIL 25, 2021) (UNRESTRICTED POOL) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** ACTOR MARLEE MATLIN POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS AT THE OSCARS 2021
- Embargoed: 22nd August 2021 13:47
- Keywords: Apple CODA Daniel Durant Marlee Matlin Sian Heder captioning cinemas deaf community distribution film hearing theaters
- Location: UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS; LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- City: UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS; LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Film,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA004EPF45LL
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: "CODA," a coming of age story about the only hearing member of a Deaf family, will change all that when it is screened with open captions in all U.S. and U.K. movie theaters and showtimes in an innovative move to make cinema more inclusive.
"It couldn't be more groundbreaking, (just) as the film is groundbreaking in support of the Deaf community and the hard of hearing community," said Marlee Matlin, who plays a Deaf mother in the film. Matlin is the only Deaf performer to ever win an Oscar when she won for "Children of a Lesser God" in 1986.
"CODA", an acronym for child of deaf adults, won four awards at the Sundance film festival earlier this year, It also will be streamed with open captions on Apple TV+, starting on Friday (August 13).
Apple worked with movie theatre operators to ensure that the film would be played everywhere, for deaf and hearing audiences alike, with the captions burned into the print in what is thought to be a first for a feature film release.
"It is historic. It is huge for all us," said Daniel Durant, a Deaf actor who plays son Leo. "This is a day we have waited to see for so many years."
"CODA" is the story of high school student Ruby who has grown up having to interpret for her Deaf father, mother and brother in situations ranging from doctor visits to their small fishing business. The family communicates using sign language and all three of the Deaf charcates are played by Deaf actors.
It follows "Sound of Metal" about a drummer who loses his hearing, which earned six Oscar nominations earlier this year, including for best picture.
Durant said while some scenes give the specific point of view of Deaf people, the appeal of "CODA" is universal.
"Anyone who watches this can feel connected with it because everyone comes from a family, and every family goes through similar struggles - kids growing up, what are they going to do in their future, becoming independent, maybe they're moving away from their family," he said.
"CODA" writer-director Sian Heder, who is hearing, learned American Sign Language for the project and wanted to ensure the film was accessible to everyone.
"Oftentimes I think Deaf people are left out of the movie going experience because of devices that don't work and lack of devices in theaters," Heder said.
The filmmakers hope that the open caption screenings everywhere for "CODA" will persuade other film studios to follow their example and encourage Deaf people to go back to movie theaters.
Heder recalls the emotional reaction of a Deaf man at a recent screening with open captions in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where the film was shot.
"He was, like, 'I don't go to the movies. I can't wear those glasses. They make me nauseous. Half the time they don't work so I've just stopped going to the theater.' He hadn't seen a movie in the theater in 10 years and he was very moved and excited."
(Production: Rollo Ross)
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