In the midst of the Django phenomenon and this renewed interest in the portrayal of enslaved black bodies, a movie arises that depicts the current traumas that black men and women face on a daily basis…police brutality (a more accurate phrase would be police executions). For me, I can’t be more enthused that there will be a film that brings to light the atrocities that are committed against people of color by police officers that are almost never held accountable.
Not to say that Django and Lincoln weren’t good movies that followed Hollywood’s formula of white heroes and excessive amounts of blood, guts, and gore. But sometimes my soul craves something real. Something that will speak me and others who are tired of the suppression of black experiences in this supposedly great country. It is time for the world to hear about the lives of Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Alesia Thomas, Ramarley Graham, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and countless others who were executed at the hands of the “guardians” of the law. Coogler’s film may just be what I am looking for.
The film Fruitvale, directed by 26-year-old Ryan Coogler, depicts the final day leading up to the murder of 22-year-old Oscar Grant by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California.
In the early hours of New Years Day of 2009, the incident gained national attention because numerous bystanders who were at the scene of the murder caught it on camera. And despite the fact that you can clearly see Mehserle shoot a non-resisting Oscar Grant in back as many times as you would like to courtesy of YouTube, Mehserle was acquitted of second degree murder charges. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years in prison and ended up only serving 18 months, which sparked outrage and riots across the Bay Area.
Now, four years later, Grant’s story has transferred from cell phone screens to the big screen through the directorial debut of Coogler’s Fruitvale. The buzz has continued to grow since its showing at the Sundance Film Festival in which it earned the U.S Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. The cast includes Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant, Octavia Spencer as Oscar’s mom, and Melonie Diaz as Oscar’s girlfriend Sophina. According to TheGrio.com, the Weinstein Co. has bought distribution rights to the film for $2.5 million.
With that being said, I looking forward to the theatrical release. I am hoping that it will bring forth the same amount of passion and discussion, as did Tarantino’s westernized version of the antebellum south.
Check out what Coogler had to say about the film below.