On June 20, the Oakland premiere of the Oscar Grant movie, “Fruitvale Station,” drew a huge, invite-only crowd to the Grand Lake Theater (the film opens officially July 12). The presence of TV and newspaper crews and a bona fide red carpet made it an Event-with-a-capital-E, as Hollywood celebrities mingled with local social justice activists and community members. The screening’s location was fitting: the historic, Art Deco theater represents the soul of Oakland, where the film was shot; 26 year-old writer/director Ryan Coogler grew up here; and Grant, a Hayward resident, worked as a butcher at Farmer Joe’s in the Dimond District.
It’s safe to say that Oakland has a lot of emotions invested in the movie. After Grant’s murder on New Year’s Day 2009, local residents were heavily involved in the rallies and protests demanding Grant’s killer–BART police officer Johannes Mehserle–be brought to justice, which resulted in heated confrontations with police and riot-like conditions on several occasions. But anyone hoping “Fruitvale Station” would bring a sense of closure obviously hasn’t been paying attention: unanswered questions still remain about the death-by-cop shooting of 18 year-old Alan Blueford, while the trial of George Zimmerman, the shooter in the Trayvon Martin case, garners national headlines.
“Fruitvale Station” is about Oakland as much as it is about Oscar Grant. For local residents, seeing recognizable locations–storefronts, street signs, BART tracks—underlines a personal identification with the subject matter. But Grant’s story is also a universal one. As portrayed by Michael B. Jordan, Grant comes off as a young black male everyman, struggling with personal responsibility, fatherhood, and the demons of his past as he transitions from a wayward youth into adulthood....
NAMES: Michael B. Jordan, Ryan Coogler