Four years ago BART police officers in Oakland, California made nationwide news when they killed an unarmed African-American man named Oscar Grant. The 22-year-old was thrown face down onto the ground in the early hours of New Years Day before officer Johannes Mehserle drew his gun and fired a shot directly into Grant’s back.
Cellphone videos of the incident became viral online as the community cried out for justice. Mehserle claimed that he meant to use his stun gun instead of his .40-caliber pistol. Riots ensued and after a three-week trial, Mehserle was sentenced to two years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced on Nov. 5, 2010 and was released on June 13, 2011. For their part in his death, BART eventually settled with Sophina, the mother of Grant’s daughter, for $1.5 million.
“Fruitvale,” named for the station where Grant was killed, is the film adaptation of this tragic story. Directed by 26-year-old first-time filmmaker Ryan Coogler and produced by Forest Whitaker, it takes viewers into the day leading up to Grant’s death. Actor Michael B. Jordan has already received high praise at The Sundance Film Festival for his portrayal of Grant.
Coogler told the L.A Times that his goal was to, “humanize these characters you see on the news as being shot by the police. We see mug-shot photos, not people with a daughter, a mother, not full human beings.”
Powerhouse distributor Harvey Weinstein, who also backed “Django Unchained,” recently had his Weinstein Co. acquire the film for approximately $2 million. Weinstein’s company has become synonymous with Academy Awards nominations and wins, so will this mean an Oscar for Oscar?
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