Huge buzz at Sundance Film Festival: Fruitvale tells story of police killing of Oscar Grant

Writer/director Ryan Coogler graduated from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts only two years ago, but his life and times prepared him to make the dramatic story, “Fruitvale,” which has rocked the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

On Jan. 19, tears flowed in the audience as sobs were heard at the first showing, friends and relatives reported in excited phone calls. And by Jan. 21, the show business daily Variety called the true story of the 2009 New Year’s Eve police killing of young Oscar Grant in the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit Station a “crowd pleaser,” as it announced its forthcoming “theatrical release” through the Weinstein Company.

Michael B. Jordan portrays a multifaceted Oscar Grant during his last day alive. Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer plays Wanda Johnson, his mother. Melonie Diaz plays the mother of Grant’s young child, and Tristan Wilds, his best friend. Chad Murray and Kevin Durand are the killer cop Johannes Melserle and his partner. Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang, his Significant Productions partner, produced the film.

Coogler, now 26, is the same age that Oscar Grant would have been. They are both from the Bay Area, where outrage erupted immediately after the cold-blooded killing, which was witnessed and recorded by so many others on the BART platform.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 organized protests to lift up Grant’s family and demand justice. The movement against police killings and the incarceration epidemic of youth, especially youth of color, is growing nationwide. Demanding that “Fruitvale” is shown in your area is another way to call for justice.

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