How Pathé Films Helped ‘CODA’ on Its Oscar Journey

Sean Heder’s heartwarming family film “Coda” not only earned a historic Oscar for deaf actor Troy Kotsur, it’s also the first English-language remake of a French film to win a Best Picture Academy Award.

Acquired by Apple Studios in a record-breaking $25 million deal at 2021 Sundance, “CODA” is based on the 2014 French box office hit “La Famille Bellier”, about a teenage girl with a singing talent who is singled out. Listening member. a deaf family. Like most remakes, the Underdog film could have died after sitting on a shelf for too long had it not been for the all-star team of French producers with American ties, who shepherded the project.

In addition to Jerome Seydoux at Pathé Films, which fully financed the film, “Coda” is headed by producer Philippe Rousselett, who worked for several years at Warner Bros. in LA and “Lord of War” through his banner Vendome Group. ” and “source code”. , and Patrick Wachsberger, former co-president of Summit and Lionsgate who now runs the Picture Perfect Federation.

“If you look at other remakes of French films, which were often backed by American studios, whereas ‘CODA’ was made more like an authentic US indie,” says Rousselet, who said that Heder’s creative vision played an important role. role played. film success.

“the very first, [Heder] Was only involved as a screenwriter, but we quickly realized that she was the only person who could direct it with so much honesty and precision, and she did it skillfully, even though she only did one film, Tallulah. made,” Rousselett says.

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It was Heder’s idea to set the film in a blue-collar coastal village in Gloucester, Mass., where he had spent his youth. Producers say that Heder also gave the film a more pronounced social edge and introduced the characters more deeply.

“The stars aligned in a surprising way on this film,” says the French producer. The project was initially set at Lionsgate, where Waksburger acquired the rights to the French film and remake, and plans to produce an adaptation with Rousselet and Fabrice Gianfermi. Wachsburger’s exit from the studio in 2018 could have ended the remake, especially because Lionsgate and Heder weren’t on the same page about certain decisions involving a group of deaf actors playing deaf roles. Fortunately, Vendme was able to buy back the rights to the remake from Lionsgate, and Rousselet managed to get Seydoux and his deep-pocketed French powerhouse Pathé, solely to finance.

“Jerome Seydoux and Ardavan Safdie in Pathé liked the script and did not see the fact that we wanted to shoot on location in Gloucester with deaf actors as an issue; instead, they understood that we needed to make the film as good as possible. To make it real and make it work socially and culturally,” explains Rousslett, who won a PGA Award for the film, along with Seydoux, Gianfermi and Wachsberger.

In addition to Marlee Matlin, who soon became attached, other actors, including Kotsur and Daniel Durant, auditioned for their roles alongside Emilia Jones. Rousselett says that the role of Ruby, which went to Jones, was “the most difficult role to cast” because she had to find “a really good actress who could also sing”. Jones also studied American Sign Language for eight months for the film.

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As for the movie winning the Oscar for Best Picture, Rousslett says, “No one would have expected a result like this for this Sundance film, because this year’s stars include Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro and Paul Thomas.” The competition with Anderson’s films was so intense.” He praised Apple for “campaigning for it with a lot of creativity, intelligence, and integrity – he didn’t oversee the film and made an enduring word of mouth.”

Next in the “CODA” adventure, Vendme Pictures and Pathé have partnered with Tony Award-winning Def West Theater to develop a stage musical adaptation.

“We would love to reunite the cast of ‘Koda’ for this stage musical, but it will take us about two years to put it together, so it’s a long shot,” Rousselett says. “I wish that the critical acclaim that our amazing cast has earned with ‘Koda’ will allow them to access a wider range of roles going forward.”

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