First Time Filmmaker and Sundance Winner Ryan Coogler About the Making Of ‘Fruitvale Station’
“Fruitvale Station” is the Grand Jury and Audience Winner at Sundance this year, based on the true story of Oscar Grant’s tragic death. Oscar Grant was a 22 year-old African American who was killed by a policeman on New Years Eve 2009, at the Fruitvale train-station in Oakland.
Many people recorded the police intervention with their cellphones and it soon clearly appeared that Grant was killed for no justified reasons but the fact that being black made him look hostile.
26 years-old Ryan Coogler was there on Christmas break from USC -studying film- during that time and, being from the Bay Area and very familiar with prejudice and its consequences, decided to tell Grant’s story through a narrative film. Coogler wrote (he got into the Sundance Screenwriting Lab) and directed the film himself and, after a screening that propelled Fruitvale Station in the contenders front line, sold the domestic and international distribution rights to the Weinstein.
Coogler young age, and his choice of taking a dramatic event and not to make a documentary but instead turn it into a narrative drama are what first got me interested into Fruitvale Station. His double win -despite moderate critics- raised my interest. I have yet to watch Fruitvale Station (and it is the first time I write about a movie I haven’t watched) but I feel some of you might be interested too to discover a bit more about the how, why and what of Fruitvale Station.
Below are two videos, the first one is a 20 minute interview Coogler gave to Amy Goodman for Democracy Now, where he talks about his motive behind making a narrative feature instead of a documentary and of telling Grant’s story. The second video is a 15 minute video from the Q&A post-Sundance screening with the audience and offers some insight on making of Fruitvale Station.
Ryan Coogler interview with Democracy Now
Ryan Coogler Post-Sundance Screening Q&A