One of the most acclaimed films of 2013 was the movie, “Fruitvale Station”. Based on a true life incident, the film tells about the last 24 hours of Oscar Grant, a man who was shot by BART train police in the early hours of New Years Day, 2009. Grant later died at an Oakland (California) hospital. Video evidence shot by passengers on the scene via cell phones suggested BART police was highly aggressive with interrogating the men involved. (Graphic Video Courtesy KTVU, Oakland)
The officer involved in the shooting, Johannes Mehserle was arrested and charged with Grant’s murder. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 2 years in prison. In addition, the family of Oscar Grant filed a $25 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against BART. The case was partially resolved when BART settled with Grant’s daughter for $1.5 million, followed by a $1.3 million settlement for Grant’s mother.
The film’s director, Ryan Coogler was a graduate student at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts when Grant was shot. Following the event, Coogler expressed his desire to make a film about Grant’s last day.
“I wanted the audience to get to know this guy, to get attached, so that when the situation that happens to him happens, it’s not just like you read it in the paper, you know what I mean? When you know somebody as a human being, you know that life means something.”
Coogler was able to meet the attorney for the Grant family, through a mutual friend and worked closely with him to get information on the case. He also worked closely with the Grant family, after gaining their trust.
A story of this nature would be easy to paint the victim as a hero. But in then end, we see Oscar Grant on the screen as a human being. The film’s lead actor, Michael B. Jordan captured the fallen protagonist in all of his flaws and shortcomings. Coogler made it aware to the viewer that Grant wasn’t a perfect person. But at the same time, the film didn’t go out of it’s way to demonize him. He very much loved his daughter and despite being previously incarcerated, Grant wanted to make an attempt to go on the straight and narrow path.
Among “Fruitvale Station” awards includes the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize, the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival for Best First Film and numerous top 10 selections for best movie of 2013. It’s a powerful, heartbreaking film that will pull on your heart strings.
Watch it now on Netflix!