We catch up with director/writer Cord Jefferson whose film ”American Fiction” has been nominated for five academy awards (Best Picture, Best adapted screenplay (Jefferson), best actor (Jeffrey Wright), best supporting actor (Sterling K. Brown and best score (Laura Karpman). Not bad for the first-time director—albeit one with a rich resume as a Emmy Award winning television writer (think: “The Good Place” and “Watchmen.”) Jefferson talks about adapting Percival Everett’s novel “Erasure,” reflecting on the novel’s exploration of stereotypes and limitations placed on Black artists, his own personal experiences which drew him to the project and influenced the adaptation. Jefferson opens up about the difficulty of finding backing for the film, particularly as a first-time director, and the joy of putting together an extraordinary ensemble cast led by Jeffrey Wright— a task made easier by the depth and richness of the characters they were called upon to play. Jefferson discusses his aim to create a film that balances satire without veering into farce, ensuring the story remained grounded and the importance of family themes within the film is highlighted, with Jefferson discussing his decision to keep these elements against suggestions to cut them as a way to enrich the narrative and ground the satire. Jefferson reflects on the success of “American Fiction,” the brilliance of the cast, and his interest in continuing to make films, appreciating the collaborative and creative process of film production. Through Jefferson’s insights, listeners gain an understanding of the complexities involved in adapting a novel to film, the importance of nuanced storytelling, and the power of representation in film.
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