AFI Movie Club: FRUITVALE STATION
In FRUITVALE STATION, cinematographer and AFI alum Rachel Morrison collaborated with director Ryan Coogler for the first time – later reteaming with him on BLACK PANTHER. An AFI AWARD winner, FRUITVALE STATION was recognized by AFI as one of the 10 outstanding films of 2013 – deeming it culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image.
Watch Phylicia Rashad announce the film:
Movie Trivia about FRUITVALE STATION
DID YOU KNOW? Director Ryan Coogler was a graduate film student when he first met actor/producer Forest Whitaker. Whitaker was impressed with a short film of Coogler’s that had been brought to his attention by his producing partner, Nina Yang Bongiovi. When they discussed ideas for a feature, Coogler proposed a film about Oscar Grant’s murder at Fruitvale Station – and Whitaker agreed to produce the movie on the spot.
DID YOU KNOW? The production budget for FRUITVALE STATION was less than $1 million, and principal photography only took place over 21 days.
DID YOU KNOW? The final section of the film was shot at the Fruitvale BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station where Oscar Grant’s murder took place, a location that producer Forest Whitaker helped secure.
DID YOU KNOW? The entirety of FRUITVALE STATION was shot with a handheld camera, with the exception of just one scene –the flashback to Oscar Grant’s incarceration at San Quentin State Penitentiary.
DID YOU KNOW? According to star Michael B. Jordan, director Ryan Coogler told him that the script had been written with him in mind to play Oscar Grant.
DID YOU KNOW? Michael B. Jordan moved to the Bay Area a month before shooting began. According to Jordan, this gave him time to soak up Grant’s environment and the opportunity to meet Oscar Grant’s mother, daughter, girlfriend and friends.
DID YOU KNOW? Oscar Grant’s real mother – Wanda Johnson – makes a cameo in FRUITVALE STATION; she plays Mrs. Stacy at Tatiana’s preschool.
DID YOU KNOW? Octavia Spencer believed in the project so much that when funding was lost, she took on an executive producer role and started raising money – and even contributed some of her own money to help finance the film. She also paid for her own accommodations during production, telling director Ryan Coogler to put the money on the screen.
DID YOU KNOW? FRUITVALE STATION won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Learn more at the AFI Catalog.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions
-The film opens with actual cell phone footage that shows Oscar Grant being detained by BART police officers in the early hours of New Year’s Eve. The footage ends abruptly with the sound of a gun being fired. Why do you think filmmaker Ryan Coogler chose to open the film this way?
-What effect did the actual footage have on the narrative that subsequently unfolded?
-Ryan Coogler is from Oakland, near where Oscar Grant was murdered. How do you think his familiarity with the Bay Area impacted his effectiveness in telling this story? How has he featured his hometown of Oakland in his other work?
-What is the significance of the Hallmark card scene in which the majority of cards feature white families? Have you noticed other racial disparities in your everyday life? How does having white families as the default on greeting cards effect racial identity and representation and demonstrate white privilege?
-How have cell phone cameras changed society? How has it led to more accountability of law enforcement?
-How did the dying dog affect Oscar? What was the significance of that scene within the context of his story?
-Why was it important to show a balanced portrayal of Oscar Grant – as a good father and son – while also showing his incarceration and moments of anger? How did the filmmakers portray his strengths and flaws as a human? Why was that important?
-The film ends with photographs and footage of the real-life Oscar and Tatiana Grant. What is the purpose of this? Why is it important in telling this tragic story? What has the impact of senseless murders of Black men been on the next generation?
-Why is it important for Oscar’s story to be told?
-How would you rate FRUITVALE STATION?
Watch this exclusive AFI AWARDS clip of the FRUITVALE STATION filmmakers and cast:
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