Title: Fruitvale Station
Release Date: July 12, 2013
Director: Ryan Coogler
Production Company: Significant Productions
We “Say Their Names” but sometimes that’s all we know about Black people killed by police and vigilantes. Ryan Coogler’s debut film as director and writer tells the story of the man behind one of those names, Oscar Grant III, who was shot by police in a Oakland metro station just after ringing in the New Year in 2009, and died later that morning. Michael B. Jordan portrays Grant as someone dealing with the complex mess of everyday life in the 24 hours leading to his shooting. Melonie Diaz portrays his girlfriend Sophina and Octavia Spencer adds a lot of emotional heft as his mother Wanda. Ariana Neal steals scenes as Oscar and Sophina’s 4-year-old daughter Tatiana. This movie feels very real to me. While it’s not filmed in a vérité or neo-realist style, I don’t feel like I’m watching Jordan, Diaz, and Spencer as actors playing people, but real people. This movie was released before the Black Lives Matter movement officially began but it captures the meaning of the phrase in its depiction of one precious, human life of a Black man that was taken away.