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On New Year’s Eve 2006, Oscar Grant, a 22 year-old black man, was fatally shot in the back by a white police officer as he was lying face down on the ground. FRUITVALE STATION depicts the last day of Grant’s life.


In the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009, a transport police officer shot a young man in the back at the Fruitvale train station in Oakland, California. He died later in hospital. Oscar Grant was 22 years old. He was unarmed and left behind a four-year old daughter.
The news that yet another young, black American had been shot by a white police officer led to nation-wide protests and demonstrations. The director, Ryan Coogler, then a film student, took part in those demonstrations. At the time of the shooting, Coogler was also 22 and was deeply shaken by the case. Five years later his film “Fruitvale Station,” a dramatization of Grant’s last 24 hours, played at the Sundance Festival and won both the jury prize and the audience award.
The film doesn’t turn Oscar into a flawless hero – Coogler’s Oscar swears, deals pot, and acts more like a teenager than an adult. This is the story of an ordinary 22-year old struggling with his past and agonising about his future. His life was violently taken from him without warning. This film puts Grant’s name alongside Rodney King and Trayvon Martin – all young men who died because they came across people dominated by fear and who continue to see violence as the only possible way out.
Ryan Coogler’s narrative shows the racist structures and attitudes in American society as clearly as it shows that Oscar was in the wrong place and the wrong time. Happenstance or not: Oscar Grant was the victim of a society in which racism is pervasive.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann

Translation: Carla MacDougall


USA 2013, 85 min
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Ryan Coogler
Author: Ryan Coogler
DOP: Rachel Morrison
Montage: Claudia Castello, Michael P. Shawyer
Music: Ludwig Goransson
Distributor: DCM Film Distribution
Cast: Melonie Diaz, Kevin Durand, Octavia Spencer, Michael B. Jordan, Ahna O'Reilly, Chad Michael Murray
FSK: 12
Release: 01.05.2014


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