Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old Hayward, California, resident who was shot and killed on New Year's Day 2009. He was unarmed when he was shot by a BART officer while lying face-down with his arms behind his back. The story of his death has reverberated around the Bay Area for the past five years. The film "Fruitvale Station," chronicling the final day of Grant's life, recently debuted at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland.
Grant arrived at the Fruitvale BART Station around 2 a.m. on January 1, 2009. Several men, including Grant, were pulled off the train by police investigating a fight. A struggle ensued between Grant and two BART police officers. Grant was forced to the ground and restrained by an officer. With both of Grant's hands behind his back, another officer, Johannes Mehserle, shot Grant in the back. Though he was transported to a local hospital, Grant did not survive. The killing caused outrage across the Bay Area, especially due to perceived racial overtones of the incident -- Grant was black and Mehserle is white.
The film "Fruitvale Station" was written and directed by Ryan Coogler of Richmond, California, and was produced by Forest Whitaker. The film time stars Michael B. Jordan as Grant; Octavia Spencer as Grant's mother, Wanda Grant; and Kevin Durand and Chad Michael Murray as BART officers. The officers' names were changed for the film.
The red carpet Oakland premiere was held at the Grand Lake Theater and was attended by several of the film's stars, producers, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, and several members of Grant's family.
"Fruitvale Station" has already received wide acclaim from critics, as well as Grant's family. At the Sundance Film Festival in January, the film earned the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. It was also screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where Coogler earned first-time director honors.
Grant's uncle Cephus "Bobby" Johnson praised the film and its director, saying, "Ryan did fantastic work. We can actually see Oscar's spirit through the film. The film is done extremely well. So well, it's hurtful."
"Fruitvale Station" opens in the Bay Area, New York, and Los Angeles on July 12 before expanding to theaters nationwide on July 26.
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