Read Siân Heder’s manuscript, which focuses on deaf culture – Deadline

Editor’s note: Deadline’s Read the Screenplay series debuts and pays tribute to the screenplays for films that will be factors in this year’s film awards race.

After writer-director Siân Heder scored raves for his debut feature film Tallulah, she became aware of the producers who had the rights to the acclaimed French film of 2014 The Aries family. “They were looking to make an American version of the film and really wanted a filmmaker to come in who had a unique take,” Heder told Deadline, noting that she was eager to explore deaf culture and American sign language on screen. in CODA, whose title derives from the acronym for children of deaf adults.

Heder came from the world of hearing and quickly immersed herself in research to find techniques to tell the story of teenager Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), the only hearing member of her family, and how she learns to balance her sense of responsibility towards her family members and her own hopes and dreams.

Heder was initially frustrated by the lack of cinematic precursors to inspiration.

“There weren’t many movies I could watch where I could see deaf characters on screen,” she said. “I was going 35 years back to Children of a minor god“That scarcity, however, was ‘very motivating for me in terms of the story to be told and also the character at the center,’” she adds. living in a way between the hearing world and the deaf world. So I was very excited about the specifics of the story and yet the universality. “

Honors ultimately made up the story of the Massachusetts fishing community in Gloucester, a region she was familiar with from her summer vacation there in her youth. “I knew the town and the fishing community there really well,” she said. “For us, it was really about not just diving into the deaf culture, but about the culture of the fishing community in this city, and how specific it was … There were a lot of conflicts in the community. There were a lot of problems that family fishermen faced in terms of losing their livelihoods. ”

One of the most crucial challenges for Heder, who puts a lot of humor into her work, was to write dialogue in a language that was essentially foreign to her. “It was obviously interesting to write the script in English, because it’s my first language, and that’s how I write,” she recalled, noting that there is no written form of ASL. The production’s ASL Masters and cast, however, helped determine “how humor can live in characters and how a joke is transformed when it becomes purely visual; how there are kinds of jokes that live purely within the deaf culture that can only be visual jokes . “

She especially honors the cast of Troy Kotsur, who, along with Marlee Matlin, plays Ruby’s father and mother, for helping to shape the dialogue into a vivid – and at times risky – visual form. “[Once Troy] got their fingers in them, they took me to a place where I thought, ‘Oh, the MPAA will never rate this movie as anything other than something completely obscene’ because Troy is so visual and blunt with his language. says Heder. “But it was actually just nice.”

“It’s the most cinematic language out there, so when writers talk about the experience of seeing their words come to life, this was the most literal version of it,” says Heder, “and very beautiful to write something, have it in my head., have these characters in my head, hear their voices and realize that I would never hear their voices, I should see this come to life and it was very moving. “

Apple bought CODA for a record $ 25 million after the premiere at Sundance, where it won the Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Crews, the Director’s Award, the Audience Award, and the Grand Jury Prize in the American Drama Competition. The streamer released it in theaters in August and is now available on Apple TV +.

The picture is already gaining momentum this award season, with an Ensemble nomination at the SAG Awards earlier this week along with a Supporting Role nomination for Kotsur. who with Jones won the Gotham Awards this fall. The film received nominations for Best Picture from the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards and was named AFI Top 10 Film of the Year.

Click below to read Heather’s manuscript.

Read Siân Heder’s manuscript, which focuses on deaf culture – Deadline

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