ROCKPORT — Before it won the best picture Oscar and before it premiered on Apple TV+, the movie “CODA” was seen by audiences in Midcoast Maine.

Emily Peckham of the Points North Institute and Camden International Film Festival confirmed that “CODA” was shown at the Shotwell Drive-In in Rockport July 10 and 11, 2021. It arrived on the Apple streaming service Aug. 13.

The original premiere of “CODA” was at Sundance Film Festival in January 2021 where it broke records as the biggest sale ever when Apple purchased it for $25 million, according to Deadline.

The film tells the story of a young woman growing up as a Child of Deaf Adults in a fishing family in Gloucester, Mass. As a high school senior, Ruby, played by Emelia Jones, develops a passion for music and must choose between pursuing her dreams and continuing in the family tradition.

A production photo from the Oscar-winning “CODA” film, which was shown in the Midcoast early through Points North Institute/CIFF. Photo courtesy of Points North

“‘CODA’ ticked a lot of boxes for us: a special pre-release, a film set in an iconic location just as the very special Shotwell Drive-In sits just outside of Rockport Harbor, and built with accessibility for people living with hearing impairments and the deaf community in mind,” said Peckham.

She noted that in its original mission, Points North was always about documentary films, but during the pandemic branched out to show other films at the Shotwell Drive-In. However, Points North continues to bring unique and interesting films to the area, the kinds of things you will not see other places.

One of the challenges is that some of the films are so fresh that people have not even heard of them before they are being screened, but these films that may seem obscure go on to gain fame and garner major awards.

In the case of “CODA,” the film was shown both in a special screening for donors involved with Points North and CIFF and in a public screening in the summer of 2021. People watching it were treated to some of the earliest screenings of the film.

Peckham said it was fitting that the film featured the fishing community as Shotwell is the only theater she knows of with a lighthouse-themed projection booth.

The organization has also committed to making films accessible to all and has even had sign language interpreters at some of its events.

The film was not the only Oscar winner brought to local audiences by Points North/CIFF. “Summer of Soul,” which took best documentary in the Academy Awards, was also shown in the Midcoast by this organization.

Peckham said a number of recent best documentaries were seen here before the Oscars.

She also noted Shotwell Drive-In will re-open in June, still at the former Rockport Elementary School site. The drive-in will be there for another season at least.

As far as “CODA” and films like it are concerned, she said, “It was exciting. We were stoked.”

Local residents enjoy an event at Shotwell Drive-In for a screening of “CODA” July 11, 2021. Photo courtesy of Points North


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