“CODA,” the American remake of “The Aries Family,” set out to conquer the Oscars

Deprived of a theatrical release by the pandemic, this low-budget film overcame all obstacles and garnered awards to become one of the big favorites for the Oscars.

Low-budget film with 100% French financing, deprived of theatrical release by the pandemic, KODA Overcame all the obstacles bit by bit and collected the awards in the last few weeks to become one of the big favorites for the Oscars.

Few in Hollywood know or care about it, though KODA is the adaptation of a French hit, The Aries Family by Eric Lartigau, who caused a surprise when it hit the cinemas at the end of 2014 by exceeding the three million viewers mark.

The Aries Family was a wonderfully well done comedy, the kind we like in France. with KODA(the director) Sian Heder turned it into an American independent film the way Americans like it, more of a dramatic comedy,” analyzes Philippe Rousselet, the French producer who carried the projects on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I think the two films made the most of what we know how to do in each country. As a producer, it makes the journey extremely interesting, I didn’t feel like I was actually doing the same film,” he assures AFP. who met him a few days before the Oscars in Los Angeles.

In both cases, the success can be “mainly explained by the story they tell and their characters, it was not a question of means. It is an extremely unique and powerful story,” emphasizes Philippe Rousselet.

Both works follow a high school student torn between her newfound passion for singing and her family, whose other members are all deaf and rely on her to communicate with the hearing world. “CODA” is short for “Child of Deaf Adult”, literally “hearing child of deaf parents”.

As in the original film, much of the dialogue is from KODA are in sign language, which the actress, who plays teenager Ruby (Emilia Jones), and director Sian Heder learned for the occasion. But during The Aries Family featured listening stars (François Damiens and Karin Viard), KODA favored authenticity by giving the roles to deaf, relatively unknown actors.

“French films are largely funded by television. Make The Aries Familythere was no question, we had to have well-known and recognized actors,” explains Philippe Rousselet. Ten years later, “we knew we had to do it KODA with deaf actors”.

“Little Thumb”

Acted as an absolute outsider in the last few weeks, KODA slowly caught on, winning consecutive awards from the Actors Union of America (SAG Awards) and then the Producers Association (PGA).

According to many Hollywood pundits, Troy Kotsur, who plays Ruby’s father, is the clear favorite for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. and KODA is now neck and neck with The power of the dogwho had been in the lead from the start for the highest Oscar for best feature film.

as The Aries FamilyKODA was shot on a relatively reasonable budget, especially considering the other films in Sunday’s competition. The film cost $15 million. In front Dune (165 million, editor’s note) we are really Tom Thumb”, smiles Philippe Rousselet.

“But I don’t think it’s a miracle. The film deserves to be where it is at this time in which we live. It’s an important film, a film that does good, that touches people and brings them together with their human values.

The course of KODA the road to recognition will have been riddled with pitfalls. Filming in Massachusetts in the Northeastern United States was certainly completed before the pandemic. But Covid-19 messed everything up in the post-production phase in June 2020. “We couldn’t finish the film, we had to move all post-production from Canada to Los Angeles because our director couldn’t travel anymore,” recalls Philippe Rousselet.

Still for sale KODA in the American market, which proved to be complicated with closed cinemas in the USA. “So we put the film on the shelf for half a year. There was no question of sending American distributors an internet link so they could watch the film at home between dates,” he says. When did hope return? KODA was selected as the opening film by the prestigious Sundance Festival in January 2021.

But the pandemic again forced organizers into a 100% virtual edition… That didn’t stop the streaming platforms from snapping up the film at Sundance in the end, auctions won by the Apple TV+ for a record-breaking $25 million . Whether he triumphs at the Oscars or not, the career of KODA does not end on Sunday.

Philippe Rousselet is already working on a Broadway adaptation in the form of a musical in collaboration with a famous theater company of deaf actors.

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