‘CODA’ writer-director Sian Heder on making this story her own

“It’s a purely visual language that is begging to be on screen, and that culture, the community of these characters had not been seen before,” explains “CODA” writer-director Sian Heder about how rare it is to see deaf characters portrayed in film, especially portrayed by deaf actors. Now the film is an Oscar nominee for Best Picture, and Heder is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Watch our video interview above.

“CODA” is adapted from the 2014 French film “La Famille Bélier,” but “I don’t think I would have embarked upon it if I didn’t think I could truly make my own movie that would feel like mine and feel like it had a reason to exist outside of the original film,” says Heder. “Tonally, they’re very different. I never used the script from the original film. I watched the film once and then I sort of absorbed the story and then embarked on my own journey with it.”

That journey took her close to home: “I wrote it for a place that I loved, which was Gloucester, Massachusetts. I grew up in Cambridge, and we would go up to Gloucester every summer of my life and I knew the fishing community there and had watched this working-class town fall apart, really, when the fishing industry died. People were struggling to figure out what to do when they couldn’t make a living anymore. So that also felt like a very ripe setting for a story and conflict within this family.”

To watch this same interview with closed captions, view the YouTube video below and click the CC button on the bottom right.

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