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Read The Screenplay For Sian Heder's Film Propelled By The Cinematic Language Of ASL

Read The Screenplay For Sian Heder's Film Propelled By The Cinematic Language Of ASL

The Read the Screenplay series, which will be the guiding force of this year's movie awards, will be released in the Editors' Note.

Sian Heder, the writer-director of Tallulah, has received raves for her debut feature film, and she grew up in the United States. "They wanted a filmmaker to come in," Heder told Deadline, noting that she was eager to explore deaf culture and American Sign Language on screen in, the title of which is used for children of deaf adults.

Heder, who is from the hearing world, started studying how to tell the story of Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), a teenager who is the only hearing member in her family, and how she learns to balance her personality and her own desires.

Heder was initially oblivious to the absence of filmmakers to select in the field.

There werent a lot of movies I could look at where I could see deaf characters on screen, she said. I was going back 35 years to Children of a Lesser God. That scarcity, however, was very motivating for me, in terms of the story needs to be told and also the character at the center, she said. So I was very excited by the specificity and yet the universality of the story.

Heder told the story in the Massachusetts fishing community of Gloucester, a region she was intimately familiar with from summering there in her youth. I knew that town and the fishing community there really well, she said.

One of the most important challenges facing Heder, who uses a lot of humor into her work, was developing a dialogue in a language that was essentially foreign to her. It was interesting to write the script obviously in English, because thats how I write, she said, noting that theres no written form of ASL. However, the production's ASL Masters as well as the cast helped determine how humor can live in sign, and how a joke transforms when it becomes purely visual;

Troy Kotsur, a cast member who plays Ruby's father and mother, has helped shape dialogue into vivid, sometimes risque, visual form. Once Troy got his hands on them, they took off to a place that I was like, Oh, the MPAA is never going to rate this film as anything other than something totally obscene, Heder says.

Its the most cinematic language out there, so when writers talk about the experience of seeing their words come to life, this was the most literal version of that, Heder writes. Its very cool to write something, have it in my head, have these characters in my head, listen their voices and then realize I was never going to hear their voices, he says.

CODA has been purchased for a record $25 million after its opening-night premiere in Sundance, which he won the Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast, the Directing Award, the Audience Award, and the Grand Jury Prize in the US Dramatic Competition. In August, the streamer released the streamer and it is now available on Apple TV+.

The photo is already gaining momentum this awards season, with an Ensemble nomination at the SAG Awards earlier this week, and a Supporting Actor nomination for Kotsur. The film was named the AFI Top 10 film of the year.

Click here to read Heder's script.

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