2021 Sundance Film Festival Awards

Today, the Golden Globe nominations were announced, and the results were pretty bad! So perhaps we should try to cleanse our palates with the 2021 Sundance Film Festival awards. This year’s Sundance was virtual, and while that experience can’t hold a candle to being on the ground in Park City, the festival organizers deserver lots of credit for putting the fest together in any capacity and running it smoothly. While I found a lot of the films I saw this year to be lacking, there were still plenty of noteworthy titles. Lots of attention was paid to Coda, a film that went over big when it opened the fest. The same goes for another opening night film: Summer of Soul, a documentary from Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.

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apple buys coda

Apple has just set a new Sundance Film Festival record with its purchase of Sundance crowdpleaser CODA. Directed by Siân Heder, the coming-of-age dramedy was an instant hit when it premiered as the festival’s opening night film, attracting the attention of streamers like Amazon and Netflix, with Apple shelling out a record-setting $25 million to land the distribution rights to CODA.

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Coda review

The coming-of-age genre is well-trod at this point. There are few innovations, and even fewer surprises, and yet we constantly return to it like an old song we used to love — maybe you’ve outgrown it, but you never get over the fondness for it.

Like many of its coming-of-age predecessors, Siân Heder‘s Coda hits all the familiar beats — teenager Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is stuck between pursuing her dreams and staying in her hometown to help the family fishing business — but with a new variation: Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family, and her dream is to become a singer. It sounds like it could be an ill-advised set-up for a broad comedy (and in the original 2014 French film La famille belier that Coda is a remake of, it almost is), but Coda approaches the story with an earnestness and raw authenticity that you can’t help but be moved by this lovely little charmer.

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