The Story Behind 'Fruitvale Station'

Slate's Aisha Harris predicts that the film about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant -- who was fatally shot by a police officer in Oakland, Calif. -- will be both powerful and unsettling. 

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Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station (the Weinstein Co.)

Slate's Aisha Harris predicts that the film about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant -- who was fatally shot by a police officer in Oakland, Calif. -- will be both powerful and unsettling.

Shot on location in Oakland, Fruitvale Station, the feature debut of director Ryan Coogler, takes place on the last day of Grant's life. It received rapturous reviews -- and the Grand Jury Prize -- at Sundance, and is set to premiere in the heart of Oscar season. The trailer, just released, strikes an appropriately ominous tone from the beginning, and is bookended by the chaotic events of that night. In between we are introduced to the key players in the story, including Octavia Spencer as his mother Wanda and Melonie Diaz as his girlfriend Sophina.

Coogler, an Oakland native, recalls hearing about the news of the incident from friends that night. "It was just horrifying," Coogler has said of the shooting. "He looked like us; I mean that could've been any one of us there." Star Michael B. Jordan, who plays Grant, has echoed similar sentiments: "It's something that gets you upset. It could've been me. It could've been my brother. It could've been one of my friends" ...

The moments on the train platform appear to hew closely to the actual incident, which was captured on several cell phones from different angles by bystanders. Reportedly, the movie opens with some of that footage. You can watch one of those cell phone videos below, but be warned that the footage, while not graphic, is very upsetting to watch. With an opening like this, I can only imagine how powerful and unsettling the rest of the film might be.

Read Aisha Harris' entire piece at Slate.

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM