“Fruitvale” scored big at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury and Audience Awards Saturday. “Fruitvale” is a drama based on the life of Oscar Grant, the unarmed black man who was fatally shot at an Oakland BART station by officer Johannes Mehserle. The film, which is produced by Forest Whitaker, is the first feature-length production from Ryan Coogler, a USC School of Cinematic Arts graduate. “Fruitvale” stars Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer. According to Entertainment Weekly, Ryan Coogler’s life has changed because of the film and he’s now a man in demand in Hollywood:
There was the standing ovation at the MARC Theater in Park City. There were the hugs and tears from Grant’s family members who attended the premiere. And then there was the avalanche of business cards from industry titans and wannabes who see Coogler as Sundance’s latest wunderkind, this year’s Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”).
Coogler was the same age as Grant and living in the Bay Area when the 22-year-old was shot in the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Oakland, and he remembers the community outrage, especially since shocked New Year’s Eve revelers recorded the shooting with their cellphones and quickly uploaded it to the Internet. When Whitaker took an interest in Coogler’s fledgling film career and asked for ideas, the young auteur quickly pitched Grant’s story. The Oscar winner signed-off on the spot, and before long, Coogler was presiding over a hometown production starring Michael B. Jordon (“Friday Night Lights”) as Oscar and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer as his worried mother.
Watch the trailer for “Fruitvale:”