The film Fruitvale Station, written and directed by 26 year-old, Oakland resident, Ryan Coogler, tells the story of the murder of Oscar Grant. In 85 minutes we are taken through a depiction of the last 24 hours of Oscar Grant’s life. We get to know him, get to see him as the 22 year old he was, struggling to provide for his daughter, to stay out of jail, to hang on to a job, to maintain relationships with his family and loved ones. And once we feel close to him, once see what it’s like to walk in his shoes, once we care about him – he is ripped away from us. The pain and anger we feel is only more intense when he and his friends are first assaulted by the BART police, and then he is shot in the back and killed right before our eyes.
Although this is an incredibly sad film, it is able to remain hopeful because instead of leaving us in despair, we are left with a burning sense of outrage, a jolt of encouragement to fight for a world free from these all-too-common tragedies.
For many of us, movies are a way to escape, a way to shut off what’s happening in our own lives and travel through someone else’s for a little while. We often go to the movies to be entertained, even distracted. But that’s not the case at all with Fruitvale Station.
This is a great film. But more than that, this film is a necessity, one everyone should see, a gut-wrenching reminder of the daily injustices of racism, poverty, and violence that are a daily part of our society. It is not an escape but a confrontation with a world that is rarely revealed to us on the screen. This is an important film.