The Oscar in Los Angeles for best picture went to “CODA”. Movie stars Samuel L. Jackson and Nicole Kidman waved instead of clapping, a sign of respect for a community and culture that is proudly Deaf. Laurie Ann Barish, a suburban New Yorker, cried. She felt a long-overdue sense of acceptance.
Barish, like the film’s title, was raised by her mother, a deaf parent. She stated that she saw her life in the story about a Massachusetts family that wants to be heard and be treated as no different than anyone else.
Barish, a 61 year-old personal assistant living in Long Beach, New York, said that “the deaf world has finally been unmuted.” This would have been a wonderful gift for my mom, and I wish it had happened when we were younger. It was an amazing gift. It was for the whole world to see that everyone is the same. “We’re all one.”
“CODA” is a touching, coming-of age story about the deafest member of a family. It was a huge success and won wide critical acclaim. The film stars three actors who are Deaf and offers a true representation of Deaf life. The Oscar win is a source of pride for many from that community. It also provides a measure Hollywood’s recent achievements.
William Millios, a deaf man who works in web development and freelance videography in Montpelier, Vermont, said that CODA was the first film to “allow Deaf people be normal, hardworking individuals trying to raise families, and navigate the globe.”
The 56-year old added that it showed their frustrations without turning them into pitiable objects that had to be saved.
Two other Oscars were won for the film. Troy Kotsur was awarded best supporting actor to become the first deaf male actor to win an Oscar. He also became the second deaf actor, along with his “CODA” star Marlee Matlin. The film was also awarded best adapted screenplay.
Howard A. Rosenblum is the CEO of the National Association of the Deaf. He said that the Oscars prove that “excellence lies not in acting disabled, but rather in convincingly and powerfully communicating a story.”
Rosenblum stated that actors and directors have been rewarded for using the trick of convincing people that they are suffering from sympathetic disabilities in order to win awards.
Gallaudet University is home to Kotsur and three other actors in the movie. This university serves students who are hard of hearing and deaf. Robert B. Weinstock said that there was an overwhelming feeling of joy on the campus in Washington Monday.
Weinstock stated that it feels finally like the Deaf community is being acknowledged by the film industry. He hopes that there will be more opportunities for employment in the performing and other arts.
He said that Hollywood does not yet have a strength in numbers. “Not many deaf people are currently involved in the industry.” There aren’t many deaf roles behind and in front of the camera. … Hopefully that will change.
People who grew up in Deaf communities say that the movie gives them a glimpse into their lives. Many people in the hearing community are not privy to these details. The film, for example, shows how deaf parents can depend on their children who can hear.
Matt Zatko (49), a Pennsylvania attorney, remembers helping his father, who was deaf, as a child. He also worked as a wallpaper hanger and painter.
Zatko stated that he recalled answering phone calls from people asking him for jobs, and also me talking to them and signing to my father at the same moment. It was our lives. It was what we did. To see it made into a movie… I laughed. I wept.”
Tony VonDolteren (Zatko’s cousin) said that the movie showed parents who are deaf confronting difficulties when visiting their children at school. He grew up with deaf parents.
VonDolteren, a Florida resident, remembers his father cheering him on at a baseball match.
VonDolteren (46), is the national youth director of Perfect Game, a scouting organization for youth travel baseball. It would shock you. People are shocked to find out that my father is deaf.
John D’Onofrio (80), a deaf man who lives in Boynton Beach in Florida said that he was in awe at the Oscar win for CODA and is thankful that more people are discovering what it is like to be a member of the Deaf community. Barish, his stepdaughter and personal assistant, lives in New York.
D’Onofrio stated that he wanted to become an architect and a carpenter as he grew up, but was told that he couldn’t do both. He instead worked as a printer for 35 years in a newspaper pressroom, where many deaf people had made a living.
He said that the Oscars were a huge win for him. “For the Deaf community. For deaf people. All people.