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One of the most talked about films of the Sundance Film Festival this past January was the first feature by writer-director Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station (formerly known as Fruitvale). A native of Oakland, California, Coogler found the inspiration for this harrowing drama painfully close to home in the tragic tale of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old who was fatally shot in the back by a BART police officer on New Year's Day 2009. The circumstances surrounding Grant's death went public in a major way as the incident had been captured by a number of camera phones. When this frightening footage hit the web, it spurred outrage and riots.
With Fruitvale Station Coogler sought not to parse the aftermath of the Grant's death, but instead the last hours of his life. Michael B. Jordan fronts the film as Grant, and is featured in the film's latest poster, courtesy of The Huffington Post. At Sundance, he told HuffPo that the gravity of playing a real person was a major pressure, explaining,
"One day, his daughter is going to watch this movie. That was something I constantly thought about. His mom is going to watch this movie. I didn’t want to let anybody down. At the premiere in Sundance on Saturday, his aunt stood up and said, 'You know, Mike, there were certain times in the movie where I couldn't tell Oscar from you,' and that's the biggest compliment I ever could have gotten."
This wasn't the only compliment Jordan or the film received at Sundance. Aside from rave reviews from critics (including our own Katey Rich), it was soon picked up for distribution by The Weinstein Company, and ultimately took home two coveted honors, the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. Very soon you'll have a chance to see what all the buzz is about as Fruitvale Station is set to premiere in limited release on July 12th. And if the Sundance crowds are right, this daring biopic could be a dark horse come award season.