“There are plenty of pretty voices with nothing to say. Do you have something to say?” Emilia Jones is asked in a new trailer for “CODA.” The history-making Sundance pic tells the story of 17-year-old Ruby (Jones), an aspiring singer who is the only hearing member of a Deaf family. Ruby’s life has been oriented around acting as an interpreter for her parents (Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur) and working on the family’s fishing boat, but when she joins her high school’s choir club and discovers a passion and gift for singing, she begins to question her future.
Ruby’s choirmaster (Eugenio Derbez) has been coaching for Berklee College of Music and is dedicated to helping her get a scholarship. The highschooler is at a crossroads, torn between the sense of obligation she feels towards her family and her own dreams. “I want to go to college,” she eventually tells her parents. “Music school. Singing is what I love.” She adds, “I can’t stay with you for the rest of my life.”
The spot suggests that Ruby’s family has mixed reactions to her decision, but her mother is happy her daughter knows who she is — and that she’s “brave.” ”
Heder told us she was “intrigued by the tension of a teenager trying to find her own identity as she straddles the hearing and the Deaf worlds.” The writer-director explained, “As someone who comes from a very loving, funny, but also boundary-less family, the search for your own identity as you separate from your parents was a theme that really resonated with me. It was a story that felt universal but also culturally specific. Through my research into the world of CODAs — Children of Deaf Adults — and the Deaf community, it became more and more important to me to authentically represent this Deaf family and Deaf culture in a way that isn’t often seen in movies.”
Asked what she’d like audiences to think about after watching the film, Heder responded, “I think many hearing people don’t have any experience of Deaf culture. People who have seen the film describe to me the powerful experience of watching scenes in American Sign Language, or ASL, and how any discomfort with that experience fades away as they become invested in the characters, their struggles, and their triumphs. While I hope that people see the story as universal and relatable, I also hope they leave the film with a new awareness and appreciation for ASL and Deaf culture,” she emphasized.
“Little America,” “GLOW,” and “Orange Is the New Black” are among Heder’s TV credits. She made her feature debut with 2016 Elliot Page-starrer “Tallulah.” Up next for the helmer is “Impossible,” a rom-com about a ghostwriter and his soon-t0-be ex-wife.
Jones stars on supernatural horror drama “Locke & Key.” Netflix renewed the series for a third season ahead of its Season 2 premiere. She recently signed on to topline “Cat Person,” Susanna Fogel’s psychological thriller based on Kristen Roupenian’s viral New Yorker short story.
“Switched at Birth,” “The L Word,” and “Children of a Lesser God” are among Matlin’s credits. She won an Oscar for the latter.
“CODA” made history as the first film to win all three top U.S. Dramatic honors at Sundance Film Festival and scored a record-breaking distribution deal at the fest when it premiered in January. The coming-of-age drama hits Apple TV+ and select theaters August 13.