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Sunday, May 26, 2024

William & Mary Grad Wins Oscar, Returning for Ampersand International Arts Festival

Cord Jefferson accepts the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay during the live ABC telecast of the 96th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 10. (Phil McCarten/A.M.P.A.S.)

WILLIAMSBURG — Cord Jefferson, William & Mary Class of 2004, won an Oscar during the 2024 Academy Awards on March 10.

Jefferson, who won in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, made his directorial and writing debut with the film “American Fiction.”

“A novelist who’s fed up with the establishment profiting from Black entertainment uses a pen name to write a book that propels him into the heart of the hypocrisy and madness he claims to disdain,” is how IMDB describes the plot.

During his acceptance speech, Jefferson used his time to urge Hollywood on the importance of giving indie directors their shot.

“There are so many people out there who want the opportunity that I was given. I understand that this is a risk-averse industry, but $200,000 movies are also a risk. It doesn’t always work out but you take the risk anyway. I feel so much joy being here, I felt so much joy making this movie, I want other people to experience that joy and I promise they are out there, I promise you. The next Martin Scorcese is out there, the next Greta is out there, the next Christopher Nolan is out there, they just want a shot and we can give them one,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson will return to the Williamsburg area as part of the Ampersand International Arts Festival (AIAF), slated for March 18-24. Jefferson will be part of a conversation led by his friend, fellow movie maker, and William & Mary alum, Milan Chakraborty.

“All of us involved with the Ampersand Festival are thrilled to see someone with a strong connection to the Williamsburg community being celebrated on such an enormous stage,” said AIAF producer Liz Sykes. “We are especially excited to welcome him to the festival less than two weeks after his Oscar win.”

Jefferson’s conversation will take place on March 23 at 8 p.m. at the Kimball Theater. Tickets are $35 and can be ordered online.

Adam Stackhouse, another of the AIAF’s producers, added, “It’s no surprise to see that ticket sales have spiked in the last 24 hours since Cord Jefferson’s win at the Oscars. This will definitely sell out, so we strongly encourage patrons to buy their tickets as soon as possible.”

During the week-long festival, a screening of “American Fiction” will also take place. The screening is free and is scheduled for March 23 at 10:30 a.m. at the Kimball Theater.

For the most up-to-date information on the festival, visit

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