For deaf people, movies played in theaters usually offer limited or no captions and the special glasses and equipment needed to read them are often broken or unavailable. Apple Original Films’ “CODA,” a coming-of-age story about the only hearing member of a deaf family, will change that when it is screened with open captions that need no special equipment in all U.S. and U.K. movie theaters and showtimes, starting Friday.
In the film, seventeen-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones) is the sole hearing member of a deaf family – a CODA, child of deaf adults. Her life revolves around acting as interpreter for her parents (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur) and working on the family’s struggling fishing boat every day before school with her father and older brother (Daniel Durant). But when Ruby joins her high school’s choir club, she discovers a gift for singing and soon finds herself drawn to her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Encouraged by her enthusiastic, tough-love choirmaster (Eugenio Derbez) to apply to a prestigious music school, Ruby finds herself torn between the obligations she feels to her family and the pursuit of her own dreams.
“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, for best actress in “Children of a Lesser God” in 1987.
“CODA” won four awards at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. It also will be streamed with full subtitles in more than 36 languages on Apple TV+, starting Friday.
Apple worked with movie theater operators to ensure 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 in theaters.
“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.”
Durant said while some scenes give the specific viewpoint 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.
MacDailyNews Note: Apple Original Films’ award-winning “CODA” will debut in theaters and on Apple TV+ on Friday, August. 13th.
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