Film About Deaf Culture Is Breakout Hit at Sundance Festival

Emilia Jones appears in CODA by Siân Heder, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Film About Deaf Culture Is Breakout Hit at Sundance Festival

The breakout hit of this year’s Sundance Film Festival will expand the conversation about diversity in Hollywood, the Houston Chronicle reports.

“CODA,” which stands for “Child of Deaf Adults,” depicts the life of a mostly deaf family that communicates through sign language.

It’s remake of the award-winning 2014 French film “La Famille Belier,” and it won the festival’s top audience and grand jury awards and set a Sundance record by selling to Apple for $25 million.

The movie follows Ruby, who is the only hearing person in her New England family, as she contemplates leaving their struggling fishing business — and her role as their interpreter — to pursue her own dreams at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. The family has to figure out how they’ll survive without her.

Deaf actors Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant and Marlee Matlin — the only deaf actor to win an Oscar — play Ruby’s family. Emilia Jones stars as Ruby.

The film highlights the humanity of those with disabilities. Ruby and her brother tease and sign profane insults at each other, and their parents’ extremely active sex life plays out in awkward, hysterical situations.

Two ASL experts reviewed the script and made adjustments if scenes were not true to deaf culture. The film uses subtitles when family members communicate with each other, but only Ruby’s translations are heard when they speak with hearing people.

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