"Fruitvale Station": How a 27-Year-Old Rookie Filmmaker Humanized an American Tragedy

The Time is Now

Oh, that clever marketing and distribution genius Harvey Weinstein—he sure knows how to effectively release his movies. Originally, Fruitvale Station was scheduled for a mid-October release, but in April, The Weinstein Company pushed its release date up to mid-July. Now, it's debuting theatrically in the midst of the hot-button, televised Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial. Like Oscar Grant in January 2009, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American male, was shot dead in February 2012, and both victims have been the subjects of immense, widespread sympathy but also questions about respective character.

Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin are two of countless victims of unlawful gun violence, a sad fact that, with Fruitvale Station Ryan Coogler hopes to bring to more people's attention. That's why he didn't want to wait any longer to write, direct, and release the film. The immediacy was too strong.

Coogler: "Young black males are losing their lives at a rapid rate in this country right now, with no signs of slowing down. I felt that, to make something that dealt with that and talked about that, was a priority to me. I wanted to get it out there as quickly as possible. If it gets people talking about these things sooner rather than later, that's a good thing. If people hadn't been recording with their camera phones at that very moment, people wouldn't be talking about Oscar Grant. Nobody outside of those folks who read the local Bay Area newspapers would have known anything about a young man named Oscar Grant getting killed."

Jordan: "In 2013, especially with what's going on in Chicago, there's a rapid loss of life. People are dying at an amazing rate. It's ridiculous. A message like the one in this film can get people, especially young people, to open their eyes and really start appreciating life. It doesn't matter who it is, or who's on the other side of the trigger, whether it's black-on-black violence or an officer and a civilian, or it's internal family drama. It's very important and very timely to get this message out there and make people reconsider things and hold themselves accountable. People then start asking questions and spark discussions, and become better moving forward."

Coogler: "If we hadn't made this film, the film industry might not be talking about these situations that happen to so many young black males, and this problem we have in our country as a whole. But it's a conversation that we all need to have more often. I just hope that this film can help spark that in whatever capacity possible."

"At the juvenile center where I work at, I work with a lot of kids like Oscar, kids his age and from his world. I hope that if they see my film, it will be an experience that's positive, but will also make them come away thinking. I think what Oscar was thinking during that day was how the choices he made affected the people he loved. I hope that kids who see Fruitvale think about that as well."

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