2021 Sundance hit “CODA” (now available to stream on Apple TV+) is more than a filmmaking masterstroke from writer-director Sian Heder. It’s also a case study of the impact storytelling can have when it’s steered by the minority groups it’s meant to represent.
We’ve never seen a film centered on a deaf family that’s as moving and authentic as “CODA.” That’s largely thanks to its talented cast, led by newcomer Emilia Jones as Ruby, the hearing daughter of Jackie (Oscar winner Marlee Matlin) and Frank Rossi (Troy Kotsur), both of whom are deaf in real life.
It’s been a breakout year for Kotsur, who is a longtime theater actor. He’s already received a Gotham Award for his supporting performance in “CODA,” plus nominations in the same category at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, Golden Globes, and more. He and Apple recently reunited to record three of his favorite monologues from film and theater exclusively for Backstage, performed entirely in American Sign Language: one from David Mamet’s “American Buffalo”; one from Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and D.M. Marshman Jr.’s “Sunset Boulevard”; and one from Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Through his craft, he makes a compelling argument for why deaf actors should get the same opportunities as hearing ones.
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