July 12, 2013

Watch Interview with Writer/Director Ryan Coogler on Sundance-Winning 'Fruitvale Station'

A powerful true story that needed to be told. 

Not many dramatic films receive both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. In fact, that hasn't been done since Precious in 2009. So, it must take an incredible story, with a filmmaker to match, to bring a film of that caliber, which is already getting the attention of the Academy, to life. In the case of this year's highly anticipated independent film Fruitvale Station, the story was that of Oscar Grant, and the filmmaker 26-year-old writer/director Ryan Coogler, who offers some insight into what went into making the film, his inspiration, and the path that lead him into a film career.

Fruitvale Station, is a true story about Oscar Grant who was fatally shot by police on a subway platform in Oakland, CA in 2009. Controversy sprung up when cell phone footage surfaced of the incident, which showed Grant being shot in the back by a police officer. This lead to the arrest of said officer, riots, protests, as well as a film -- Coogler's first feature, which was produced in part by Forest Whitaker. Check out the trailer below to see what it's all about.

Being from the Bay Area himself, Coogler was inspired and deeply affected by the tragedy.  He explains in a Q&A found on the film's website:

The footage, the trial, and the aftermath filled me with a great sense of helplessness. Many people in the Bay Area community participated in protests, others took parts in rallies and marches. There were also many riots stemming from desperation. I wanted to do something to make a difference, and I thought that if I could bring the story to life through art, and give audiences the chance to spend time with a character like Oscar, it could maybe lower the chances of an incident like this happening again.

After participating in the Sundance Screenwriting Lab, Coogler moved into production with a small budget to work with (mostly from grants,) which proved to be a challenge when they decided to shoot on-location in the Bay Area using 16mm film. However, the production team shot the entirety of Fruitvale Station in 20 grueling days, and 6 months later, the film was premiering at Sundance.

While filming, Coogler explains that the cell phone footage of Oscar's shooting may have been good for setting up the scene, but emotionally it took a toll:

The footage was very useful in terms of blocking the scene and working out the individual beats. But it also made for an added level of emotional difficulty in making the film. I cannot count how many times I have seen Oscar get shot, over and over again, from different angles, and each time you see something like that, it’s like it takes a piece of you.

Originally, Coogler went to school to study Chemistry at St. Mary's College with plans to become a doctor. After a professor told him that he had a knack for telling stories, he decided to try his hand at screenwriting, studying, first, a copy of the screenplay for Pulp Fiction. He started screenwriting in his free time and "fell in love with it," and applied for and got accepted into USC's School of Cinematic Arts after graduating from Sacramento State.

Coogler delves deeper into what drove him from a career in medicine as well as the details of Fruitvale Station in the interview below:

Fruitvale Station opens today in New York and Los Angeles, then select theaters nationwide on July 19th. To find out if the film is screening in a theater near you, you can check out the schedule here.

Have you seen Fruitvale Station yet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Links: Fruitvale Station website

Your Comment

49 Comments

I saw Fruitvale Station at Sundance. It didn't do much for me or my colleagues, but most of the audience loved it. It is very well crafted and plays on the idea that New Years is the day Oscar, a convicted criminal with violent tendencies, is turning his life around when something terrible happens. Oscar's family, especially his mother, are excellent in their roles. They build a very strong family around Oscar that effectively masks his prison record or violent outbreaks. He loves his daughter, his girlfriend and his mom and they love him. Very effective setup to make a normally unlikable character very sympathetic. Some of the symbolism is a bit heavy handed (like a dog being hit by a car in front of Oscar) and a dose of white guilt handed out, but it is crafted very well.

Fruitvale Station will probably win a lot more awards because it is socially relevant and emotionally effective. It will also leave you saying, 'Sup Bra!?, Oscar's main catchphrase.

Aside from the film itself It is getting a bit hard to not notice the connection between the Sundance Labs and many of the entrants and winners in the festival mostly because the Lab seems like a really big production company at this point. I know many large festivals help finance (through grant applications) films to get high quality entries into their programming, it just does not feel as 'independent' as people who are outside the sundance production system. I could practically see the scenes of the script added by the experience and advice the Sundance Labs provide. I heard several old time festival goers talking in line about how incestuous the Labs have become over the last few years. But I still had a blast at the festival!

July 12, 2013 at 3:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

what a load of crap the first person who commented spilled in his comments

" I could practically see the scenes of the script added by the experience and advice the Sundance Labs provide" - seriously???? ..... you need to watch his strudent and first films some of which are on vimeo to see how truly gifted this young director is! and finally, "white guilt"???? - seriously??? TO WHOM THE CAP FITS WEAR IT PROUDLY especially after posting such comments. I encourage you to submit your pro-klan biopic to the next sundance labs! maybe the "EXPERIENCE AND ADVICE THE SUNDANCE LABS PROVIDES" will help crafting your "white guilt" - less draft to a black-guilt master piece!

July 12, 2013 at 4:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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thadon calico

Calm down, killer.

July 12, 2013 at 5:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Anon

I have worked in film development at some very large Hollywood production companies and can see when a script has been polished by professionals. Sorry I didn't make that more clear. I believe the filmmaker is very gifted and the Sundance Labs (which is a very large production company itself) helped him put his best foot forward by streamlining this script as much as possible for emotional impact. I hope he has a bright future.

As for white guilt I mention that because I was in the theater with a packed audience and heard the comments of others leaving the theater and around town during the festival. "That poor black kid, he never had a chance". I actually heard that from other audience members who felt sorry for what white society had done to him even though the main character is a drug dealer and a violent criminal. The 'buzz' at Sundance is actually what you hear other people talking about in line, especially for the other movies going on. The line waits are really long sometimes and you hear a lot of it.

I took 6 people to go see the movie at Sundance and we discussed at length what the film was intended to do and how well it did it. This is a consolidation of several discussions we had about the movie. Renee asked if we had seen the movie to share our experience, so I did. Sorry if it came out in an offensive light.

The reason I was unmoved was because I have seen much more tragic real life events (that did not have political backing) and could spot most of the emotional buildup from a mile off. It was like watching a magic trick I already knew. It was done well, it just didn't suck me in. You know the end before the movie starts and it is very difficult to even spoil this movie because there are no surprises. The real gem is in his family's performance which was EXCELLENT, especially the mother.

July 12, 2013 at 8:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

Thanks for sharing your experience, Dan.

July 12, 2013 at 10:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Did I really see the word 'klan' used in a comment? Really?

July 12, 2013 at 11:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

I'm asking myself the same question.

July 13, 2013 at 1:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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It was clearly out of line that it was used in a comment. And it was wrong that no one moderating comments at a blog where it appeared in comments addressed its use.

July 14, 2013 at 6:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

I don't doubt anyone's talent involved in the making of this film. I just think that making films based on events like these is incredible cheap, exploitative, and trite. Even if well made... this is nothing more than "social-change" porn for the masses. The narrative competition at Sundance should be kept to works of ORIGINAL fiction. "Social-allegories" that are INSPIRED by events like Fruitvale station are fine... but honestly, anyone can take a tragic event, show the protagonist interacting with friends/family and then let the event unfold. It's cheap, unoriginal, and offensive. What going to be next years pirze-winner? A Trayvon Martin movie? Or how about a middle-eastern kids last day before the US bombs his family? Or we could tell the tale of a young girls dream to run the Bostn marathon only to... well... you get the idea. I understand that Hollywood often exploits real-life tragedies for a quick-buck... but first-time filmmakers and independent productions should be held to a higher standard.

July 12, 2013 at 4:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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bwhitz

I agree with it being a bit unoriginal, especially considering how the most dramatic scene in the film is already laid out for them, but that doesn't mean that the film can't be good. Going into the film with that attitude is probably going to sway your opinion, almost like making your mind up before you see it. Even though having watched the trailer I know that the film isn't going to be groundbreaking or mind blowing I do feel that it still has the potential to be moving. Even if it were a remake of another film from six months ago I still would believe that it has at least the possibility of being good.

July 12, 2013 at 7:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Adam

I loved ARGO and thought it was incredibly well crafted, especially how they hold tension when nothing is actually happening of real danger. The whole world loved Titanic. Dramatic recreations of events have a huge impact that shouldn't be over looked. "All The President's Men" inspired an entire generation of journalists. I actually think that more independents should pick events like this because it opens up an audience who wants to know what 'really' happened. Drama is more powerful than facts.

I think holding independents to a 'higher' ideal than Hollywood is asking a bit much. They are independent! They should be able to do anything they can get financing for. For documentary I would absolutely agree that the standard is a lot higher, its just that documentaries don't get theatrical releases most of the time no matter how good they are. Dramatic recreations reach a much larger audience which I believe was the intention of this film and it will be a hot topic as it makes it's way to theaters.

July 12, 2013 at 8:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

I'm sorry but I have to agree with the above two posters in regards to this reeking of transparent award pandering, social issue exploiting trite. I'm sure its well made and all, but the intentions feel greasy to me, films like this are a huge turn off and it makes me lose respect for major festivals who continue to stroke their consciences by championing it. Lets hear from more original voices and less pandering.

July 12, 2013 at 5:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Liron

Who has seen this movie?

July 12, 2013 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

I've seen it. I'm sorry, i'm mostly with "Dan" on this one. I do think Michael B Jordan (that B is important!) is great in the main role, but its exactly what you think it will be, and often feels crudely manipulative. It's well made, its well meaning, but when "Dan" mentioned the polishing, I knew exactly what he meant.
I'm all for new film voices - I just didn't feel much from this film. The story itself is just so powerful: I would have preferred someone had done an 'Imposter' with this subject, rather than this picture which verges right on the edge of being Lifetime-y.

July 12, 2013 at 10:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

i'm truly amazed that this site's audience of white male gear dorks don't like this film

let's hear from more original voices yall, as long as those voices are talking about affluent white twenty-something just trying to "figure things out"

July 12, 2013 at 8:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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total_fricker

If by 'white male gear dorks' you are talking about me (as I am the only person who has seen the movie and is posting so far) then I can see your point as I was not a huge fan of the movie. It is well made though and I don't want to discourage others from seeing it.

And you are right, Sundance has a LOT of 'twenty something just trying to figure it out' independent films. What I actually see more of though is 'white kids go to foreign country and make a movie" films. These ones really get a lot of hype because they look like foreign films and are often in a foreign language. Then you meet the college age directors taking a break from film school at USC. Last year the Raid, Ai Wei Wei, Fishing without nets (won the shorts competition) came to mind as foreign films made by kids from the USA. They were really good movies though and I do not want to take that away from them, it just an interesting (and smart) way to get into Sundance which craves international appeal where the competition for a coming of age story is so stiff.

I saw '5 Broken Cameras' 2 years ago, a documentary by a Palestenian man who filmed local events in his town during an Israeli conflict and has camera after camera broken by guards trying to stop him from filming. 2 of the cameras save his life when they were shot out of his hands. You actually see the footage of bullets breaking his cameras. He had footage of his friends being shot down. Some of the editing was weak on that movie (which I blame the producer for), but talk about an independent voice! He came to the screening and showed us his scars! So while Sundance does have a lot of odd tendencies of recent years, it still probably the best place for some independent voices to be presented.

July 12, 2013 at 8:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

And by 'best place for independent voices to be presented' I mean pick up distribution. :D

July 12, 2013 at 8:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

I mean real stories, not scabbing stuff off the news because you think it will get the biggest reaction and most critical praise. WRITE a story. This has nothing to do with black, white or gear you pleb.

July 12, 2013 at 11:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Lucio

I had never thought that movies based on real events were not 'real stories'. What an interesting point of view! I'll have to think about that a bit though I do always get skeptical when a movie starts off with the lines, "based on real events" because a lot of fiction is based off real events.

I am also impressed that posting my feeling about this movie has gotten me called a Plebeian and a Klan member. And I thought posting about canon on a R3D thread got a negative reaction! 0_0 wow!

July 13, 2013 at 12:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

Yes, Dan, there was irrational reaction to your comment.

July 14, 2013 at 4:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

I haven't seen the movie yet, but would love to. A lot of the above comments seem a negative & biased to me. As for "the white guilt" I feel guilt is a feeling never to be doubted. I think the intention of the film, based on the above comments, trailer, and commentary was to raise awareness to the plight of the black man in America. Instead we shift the focus to the aid given the screenwriter, and the story being unoriginal and unmoving. Just a thought.

July 13, 2013 at 12:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alien Astronauts

The tough thing about examining the plight of the black man in america through this film is that there is no deep conspiracy against Oscar in the movie. He is arrested, fights back, and gets shot on the rowdiest drunkest day of the year by a transit authority cop. The transit cop said, "stand back, I'm going to taze him" and then shot him with a gun in the back (as the actual footage shows). I left thinking, "wow, what a terrible accident." Fruitvale Station adds a nice subplot in the final act to make it so Oscar's fight is more relevant when he meets some old enemies.

I have friends who live in Oakland and one of them won't even leave his home during the holidays because someone was shot and killed next to him for no reason during a festival. Well, the person who shot him was on drugs, but I don't call that much of a reason. It can get very violent in the Fruitvale area as you can see in this New York Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/us/in-the-fruitvale-section-of-oakland...

July 13, 2013 at 1:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

I have a friend that was shot in the Fruitvale. He was waiting outside a store with a friend while another friend went inside to buy a soda. A gangbanger walked buy with a gun held behind his back. He swung the gun around and shot my friend thru the chest, then shot the other guy, then ran. My friend nearly died in the hospital but did recover. The other was treated for minor injuries and was released from the hospital after 2 days. The bullet had passed through mostly flesh hitting no major organs. My friend was in the hospital for nearly a month and was operated on twice. Some gang initiation rituals require new members to shoot strangers while gang leaders watch from a distance. The Fruitvale/East 14th area of Oakland is one of the most dangerous areas in America.

July 14, 2013 at 4:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

The kind of person who would do such a thing should be hunted and executed himself. I saw FS, and thought it was a well-crafted film, but one which clearly tried to make the Grant character more appealing than I suspect he really was in life (ditto the disgusting attempted railroading of George Zimmerman: Trayvon was almost certainly a thug, who made the mistake of physically assaulting an armed man). I've been confronted by cops on several occasions, and though quick to defend my rights (cops will often make "fishing" accusations which they believe to be false as ruses to get at something for which they can make an arrest), I NEVER get physical with any kind of authority figure, especially one with a gun. Grant was almost certainly drunk or otherwise needlessly belligerent. If he had meekly complied with officer orders, he would be alive (ditto Trayvon - if he had just gone home, no problems would have resulted).

August 9, 2013 at 5:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Leon Haller

Dan, it's not that posting your feelings about this movie has gotten you in trouble -- you're welcome to not like any film out there. It's what you've said that is worth examining:

First you say you've seen "much more tragic real life events (that did not have political backing)." Fruitvale WAS a real life event, and if an innocent man's life being taken senselessly isn't tragic enough for you then I worry about what you consider to be a real tragedy. Also, are you implying that the events in Fruitvale had political backing? Because elsewhere you say "there is no deep conspiracy." Yet young African Americans (hell, not just young) are losing their lives to those who are ostensibly there to protect them all the time in this country. There's a case going on right now that you might have heard of...

Then you rail against "white kids go to foreign country to make a movie" films, yet here is a young African American filmmaker from the Bay Area making a film about a young African America in the Bay Area. It couldn't be further from what you criticize, yet you find a way to somehow have a problem with either kind of film winning awards at Sundance.

I don't get it, and having seen the film myself and finding it to be one of the most affecting films I can remember, I feel terrible reading a lot of the comments here. No, the film is not perfect. And neither is anything any of us will ever make. But it is an affecting, relevant, and important piece of art. I'm ashamed to read these comments here.

July 13, 2013 at 3:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Hi Ryan, sorry if I am polluting the comments. I feel like my comments are being taken out of context here so let me clarify (as I obviously am causing some hard feelings).

"If an innocent man's life being taken isn't tragic enough for you what do I consider a real tragedy."

I left the film feeling that Oscars death was an accident and that the transit police officer grabbed his gun when he meant to grab his taser. It looked to me like a really bad series of events, not a conspiracy to murder Oscar because of his race (you can check Johannes Mehserle's sentence if you want to see what the courts thought about it). I was saying I could see the plot from very early on and nothing surprised me. I knew what was coming and that is exactly what I got. I appreciated it technically and could see why others would be moved by it.

The reason Oscar's death is relevant and this film was even made is because it started riots where protesters "smashed hundreds of car and shop windows". There were 105 arrests and 300 business damaged in the aftermath. The issue was sparked with a viral video (how the movie opens) and resulted in unreast throughout Oakland (the end of the film). That is why I said I have seen much more tragic events (go ahead and watch the news to find something more tragic like firefighters perishing) that did not start a political movement. Oscars death sparked a political movement of the ongoing concern over racism which is why this movie was made.

Of course I saw the Sundance edit and they may have clarified some of the scenes since I saw it earlier this year. My appologies if it is a clearer message now.

I have said nothing but praise about Coogler's directing ability! He got great performances from his actors. My critiques are about the sundance system and how I could tell where his script had been polished through the lab. It felt like an independent movie reworked by professional independent movie experts. I felt that Ryan Coogler's voice was chiseled away from the story which made me sad because I felt like he had a lot more he wanted to say about the subject matter.

The white kids going to another country to make a film in Sundace was a direct response to the comment "let’s hear from more original voices yall, as long as those voices are talking about affluent white twenty-something just trying to “figure things out” by total_fricker. I am saying YES AND there are also a lot of these movies that get in on the international ticket and gave 3 examples. I was saying that caucasian kids ALSO dominate the international submissions, not just the coming of age 20 something films so popular in indie film. Maybe I just suck at empathy and people think I am always disagreeing with them even when I am saying, "Yes and..." I am talking about Sundance politics here and was not railing these filmmakers for doing it. It is hard to get into Sundance and that is why it is a SMART way to get in as is the Sundance Lab. I just wish Sundance didn't give itself so many awards.

This is why SLAMDANCE exists during the exact same time as Sundance on the same street. Fun fact: Christopher Nolan's first film 'Following' did not get into sundance, it got into slamdance and he was able to network a little so his next film, Memento, would make it into Sundance. Sundance is a hard shell to crack and it is not an even playing field.

I'm sorry for making you ashamed to read my comments. It was not my intention and it seems most the misunderstanding comes from when I switch gears from talking about the film to talking about the Sundance film festival and their exclusive labs.

July 13, 2013 at 5:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

I'm with Dan on this one. Everything he just explained seemed pretty darn clear to me from the start and not sure how any of it could be misinterpreted as offensive or even provocative. When others offered their opinions he was open to their viewpoints and made positive remarks about them, accepting elements of others' arguments. So what's the problem? I'm very surprised to see you guys at NoFilmSchool jumping down people's throats the moment they disagree with an opinion posted on the blog. No offense intended but it seems overly-defensive and less related to the film in question but more about sensitivity to contrary opinions.
I don't know about anyone else, but my first instinct as an independent filmmaker who runs a blog would be to respect the opinion of someone who's worked in high-profile script development, not to try to shut them down for no particular reason I can see.

July 13, 2013 at 9:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alex

What's unrelated to the film is this idea that the film "handed out" a "dose of white guilt". If someone says that "white guilt" is used in a film to affect the audience, the credibility of the film is damaged whether the claim is true or not. It goes from being evocative to manipulative -- the audience is no longer empathetic toward a harsh reality, but tricked by some movie with "white guilt".

This is why throwing around phrases like that can have a severe backlash. Using that phrase (perhaps inadvertently?) chalks the filmmakers' success up to a ploy enacted against its own audience -- suggesting that the film is getting all of this attention because a bunch of white people feel guilty. It makes the film's and the filmmakers' success illegitimate.

July 14, 2013 at 5:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

If using the phrase "white guilt" was the offensive issue that invalidated everything positive I said about the film, why didn't you say so 2 days ago when I first posted?

July 14, 2013 at 5:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

I think that's irrelevant.

Everyone's free to express their opinions (as long as it stays civil.) I was simply pointing out the complex effects of saying something that most would think is benign. To me, the term "white guilt" isn't offensive. Accusing filmmakers of somehow using it to sway audiences is.

July 14, 2013 at 10:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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V Renée

"It will also leave you saying, Sup Bra?! Oscars's main catchphrase". That alone Is worth the price of admission along with a pack of skittles. You must of patted yourself on the back so many times after coming up with that one.
The future of socially driven and thought provoking filmaking has a bright future with people like you in Hollywood thank you so much Dan.

July 19, 2013 at 9:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Film Geek

Ryan Koo

It seems that you should have addressed the comment above that had the word 'klan' in it.

July 13, 2013 at 11:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

Ryan,

You are wrong to say Oscar Grant was shoot ONLY BECAUSE he was black.

July 14, 2013 at 4:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

IMHO I just don´t like fiction films recreating real events step by step. I love documentaries. Even with reenactments. This is where I find it OK to bring up a hurtful or emotional moving subject and let the audience "suffer" an other time.
Does a movie like this really help understand what happened to Oscar Grand or benefit the greater cause of the event?
Or does it just help blend real life stories with all the fictional stories we are bombed with each day, creating a state of hyper-reality where everything is both fiction and reality?
"Wow, that was hard, thank god it´s just a movie." "But it´s a true story!" "Yeah, I heard, crazy what can happen to some people, huh...?""Yeah, crazy..."

July 13, 2013 at 12:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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SpartaBear

I Agree with Dan. RYAN: Not sure why you are launching a personal attack on him for some pretty well laid out opinions.

BTW how about an update on manchild since everyone who chipped in is wondering whats going on.

July 13, 2013 at 9:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Stew

Wow, this thread got out of hand.
Anyway, the film did well this weekend. Would still have preferred a well made doco instead, but there you go. And with the Zimmerman ruling, I think the Weinstein Co (just imagine I spit on the floor when I say that - personal reasons) will have a hit on their hands.

July 14, 2013 at 2:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

It did fairly well in Oakland where it opened, where the event happened. I don't think that most of America even knows this story. The distributors of the movie must know it won't sell tickets in most of America. Most of America won't want to watch a movie about an ex-con that resists the police and then his death is made to look "senseless", as one commenter here put it. Whether it is fair that most of America will think that of the movie and won't watch it for that reason is another issue. Most of America respects the police and feels they are good and that it's exceptionally dangerous to resist them. Police do not carry night sticks and guns for no reason.

July 15, 2013 at 12:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

The film may or may not be great. I couldn't fit a screening in this weekend but I don't understand why anyone would try to bring down this young man and his film. Sure he developed it with the help of the sundance labs and such but it still takes talent and luck to get into that program. It also takes talent and luck to get any film made so why not just be inspired by this guy and the fact that he has achieved what we all want in life? If he can do it so can we.

July 14, 2013 at 9:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jerome (also..b...

completely agree with this comment.

July 15, 2013 at 3:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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BIG AL

Well...better used this tragedy as a
jumping off point to come up something original.
Not just take a tragic event and insert
emotional loaded things to get
sympathy.. He was a victim.
He was a real person no need to sugarcoat him.
The real trick is to get people to feel for him
by showing him warts and all. This is not done.

July 16, 2013 at 8:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sammy

Let me first say that I have not seen the movie. But I think to suggest that no films should be based off actual events is kind of ludicrous. Also just because a person is real doesn't mean they can't be a victim at the same time. I think in this particular situation Oscar was a victim. If you are laying face down on the ground and someone shoots you in the back, I think that kind of does make you a victim because you are the one who is now dead. Coogler lived in the Bay Area at the time and seems to have a genuine connection to Oscar, I find it hard to believe he is trying to capitalize off this tragic event for his own good, but rather bring to light to a broader audience that this event really did happen.

July 16, 2013 at 5:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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BIG AL

Were any lengths put it to make people feel for the cops?

July 16, 2013 at 7:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

I saw the movie. It was great, but more importantly it was fair. Mr. Coogler did a phenomenal job of showing the complex character that Oscar Grant was. He is by no means painted as a saint but he also wasn't painted as some degenerate ex-con causing trouble everywhere. He was a flawed individual with a temper who made bad decisions in his life, but he was also a loving father and son. I feel like the cops were portrayed fairly as well. They weren't the nicest cops in the world but were shown as being compassionate and remorseful as Oscar lay dying, bleeding at their hands, in my opinion.

July 18, 2013 at 5:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Perhaps some of us are just a little bit jealous. I've been wanting to make films since I was little and constantly surround myself with film books and movies in order to learn more about the craft of filmmaking, as I'm sure a lot of nofilmschool subscribers do to. So personally, my only gripe is that Ryan Coogler didn't know much about films until a few years ago. It's kind of disheartening in a way. I mean if Richard Linklater put in 9 years of work before 'Slacker', and he's a genius, how could a random football player go on to win big at Sundance and Cannes after just a few years of discovering his passion for film? Again, this is my personal opinion, but perhaps a lot of the people who posted negative comments feel this way too. Come on. Be honest with yourself.

But while Coogler's achievements can be seen as disheartening, I prefer to think of his success as inspiring. If this dude, who didn't know much about film before his early 20s, was able to take the world by storm, imagine what those of us, who have been focused on film our whole lives, will be able to do given the chance.
We just have to take that chance. And if that doesn't work out. Then we create our own luck. That's what Coogler did. And that's why deserves his accolades.

August 2, 2013 at 4:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Greg

I don't want to take away from Coogler's legitimate achievement, FS is a fine film (I had wished it were longer than 85 minutes), but let's be serious for a moment. Are you perhaps racially naive? Do you not understand the whole affirmative action mentality that pervades "White Guilt America"? Look at the ludicrous fawning over Obama in 2007-8. The media were tripping over themselves praising a guy with one of the thinnest resumes in Presidential history. Does anyone think that if Obama had been white he would have even gotten the Democratic nomination?

Obama was not elected due to direct affirmative action (though I'm sure that's how he gained admission to HLS - release your transcripts Barack!). But he was surely elected due to white guilt, a kind of sentimental affirmative actionism. He was treated with kid gloves because so many weird liberal whites have a deep-seated, arational affinity for racial utopianism, for proving that there are no statistically significant intergroup differences in abilities or behavior between the races (other than in the "less important" athletic realm, where black superiority cannot be denied any longer), which they ridiculously claim don't even exist (tell that to a forensic examiner doing a criminal DNA analysis). White liberals just love giving a helping hand to nonwhites, even if that comes at the cost of injustices done to innocent whites.

The point of this re Fruitvale Station is that there are all sorts of programs out there desperately searching for minority applicants or beneficiaries (there is literally NOTHING special for us lowly whites; we are expected to make it in all things on our own merit). You don't think Forrest Whittaker was looking for something "black" to nurture/produce? Would he have funded a movie set among the Amish, rural Maine fisherfolk, unemployed white computer programmers? Please.

I hate saying this, as I certainly applaud Coogler's taking advantage of opportunities as they opened up, but I just can't see the achievement of a young black man in a field dripping with white guilt and desire to 'uplift' as being as impressive as something similar accomplished by the typical anonymous, underprivileged white man (note a lot of this would apply to women and other minority groups, too - they all have legions wishing to help them, support them, nurture their careers ... white men? .... nada ....).

August 9, 2013 at 6:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Leon Haller

Maybe I missed something in the interview but it sounds like he had backing from Forest Whitaker before he had even approached the family about potentially writing a script. How the hell did he do that?! Does anyone have any more info on how Ryan got this thing made?

August 5, 2013 at 12:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Clay J

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I wil see it, there is still some pain . I know one guys father that was there. And I worked at hospital where Oscar was brought to. You talk about Fruitvale area which predominately Hispanic Area in Oakland and residential. I want to clear something the altercation started at West Oakland Bart station The train had came from San Francisco. A victim got off the train at West Oakland Bart station and called the Bart police. The BART train was already left the scene to the next stop was Lake Merrit. The BART police didn't have time to get there, so they going to meet the Bart train at Fruitvale station. And yes the victim was a patient at the hospital I work at too.

January 3, 2014 at 7:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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BROWN

What urban city doesn't have its problem. What you don't know there is some rich and famous people live in Oakland hills. My friend is a realator, but I told I wouldn't give any names. And once again the incident started in San Francisco and one of the victims got off the train in West Oakland and where the BART police was dispatch to, because I live across the West Oakland BART station and that morning I saw alot of the BART police there and they left. They met the BART train at Fruitvale station. I need to go see the movie, because my impression I'm getting, is the writer/director didn't let say directed the story good or some of you people didn't concieved the story well.

January 3, 2014 at 8:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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BROWN

Through some grants like San Francisco film foundation, and with Forest Whitaker is part of Junto Box. Where so many votes put you up the latter. Forest has the right to make it happen or turn it down. One more comment whoever clear for the story didn't get clearance from the guys who were there and friends of Oscar. Maybe the story was embellished, I will go see or rent it.

January 3, 2014 at 8:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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BROWN