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Interview: ‘CODA’ Filmmaker Sian Heder Chats About the Movie’s Sundance Success, Deaf Representation, and More

Back in January, I went wild over CODA at the Sundance Film Festival. Of course, that wasn’t an uncommon position to have, as it was the undisputed hit of the fest. Regardless of that, the movie really is phenomenally good. A big part of that is writer/director Sian Heder, who imbued the film with heart, humor, and a real sense of specificity. Interestingly, in doing that, the flick became universal. A few days ago, Heder and I hopped on Zoom to discuss the journey that the project has been on, including that fantastic festival reception. With CODA having hit Apple TV+ (as well as theaters yesterday), I now present my conversation with Heder to you today.

First, a reiteration of how good the film is. Yesterday, I wrote a bit about CODA as an Oscar contender (here). I referenced my Sundance review, which you can find here. Part of that rave is below:

CODA is phenomenal. Writer/director Sian Heder is able to mix comedy and drama with aplomb, never once tripping over the cliches of the genre. It’s supremely confident work, from start to finish. Even when the narrative goes to some familiar places, the jokes and the situations are unique. Of course, casting deaf actors and actresses lends an extra bit of honesty and realism to things, though it also makes for some even funnier moments than expected. Who knew that ASL could be used to such comedic benefits?

Next, you can see my chat with Heder. As mentioned above, she and I spoke about a number of factors involving the movie, including its reception at the Sundance Film Festival. Specifically, how the raves came to her via Zoom, leading to a more subtle celebration than would have usually been the case. Plus, I asked a bit about how she approached CODA. Heder wonderfully detailed some of what went into making sure the deaf representation here was truly not just lip service and honored the project. She’s super nice and really fun to talk to, so it was a true pleasure to chat with her…

Apple TV+

Here now is my interview with CODA filmmaker Sian Heder. Enjoy:

CODA is in theaters now and streaming on Apple TV Plus. Don’t miss it!


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