Fruitvale Station could not have arrived at a more proper time. The film is based on the true story of Oscar Grant and his last moments up to when he was shot and killed by a BART officer on New Years Day in 2009. The incident, which was clearly a case of racial profiling, set off protests in the city of Oakland, Calif. After the officer was sentenced to two years in jail, it was yet another example of the pat on the shoulder authorities receive in killing Blacks in America. The film was released July 12, two days before George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin, a similar case of racial profiling upon a young unarmed Black male. I took myself to see the film yesterday and I felt moved to express five reasons why you should go see it as well:
1. A Victim is Humanized
Quite often we hear stories about the Oscar Grants and Trayvon Martins, but they’re just a face and a quick segment on the 10 o’clock news. But they have families that care about them. They had goals and futures that were robbed of them. Fruitvale Station is a reminder that essentially everyone wants the same basic things in life when we look beneath the cloud of stereotypes.
2. Support Independent Film
Fruitvale Station is an independent film directed by Ryan Coogler, a 27-year-old of Oakland, who attended the USC School of Cinematic Arts. It is his first feature-length film. When it comes to culture, we love to complain about what’s not so good about it. And although I do agree that there is a lot of crap out there, we also have to support films that tell important stories when they come out. Put your money where your mouth is.
3. Award-Winning Film
When Fruitvale Station debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film. It also took home and award for Best Film after it screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
4. Most Important Film Right Now
From President Obama to Stevie Wonder, many have expressed their disgust with the injustices fueled by racism in America since the Zimmerman verdict. Although Fruitvale focuses on Oscar Grant’s personal struggles, it brings awareness to a story that is often swept under the rug. Many are calling for an end to “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida and a federal court is currently deciding the legality of NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, which disproportionately targets African-American and Latino males. The work reflects the fight going on in the real world, making Fruitvale Station the most important film in theaters right now.
5. Overall A Great Film
I didn’t know Oscar or his family, but by the end of the film I empathized with his struggle. Coogler did not try to make Oscar look like a a perfect angel — but who doesn’t have flaws? I wanted Oscar to win. I wanted his relationships to work out with the people in his life. At 22, he was just beginning to understand who he was. The powerful film showed that he was a young person who desired a better in life. Micheal B. Jordan and the supporting actors and actresses’ also gave heartfelt performances. In the end I was crying, which is my norm. But even if you don’t shed a tear, you will be moved.
Fruitvale Station opens nationally Friday July 26.