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Katie Couric “Race In America”

From the “stop and frisk” debate to Oscar Grant’s Mother and Uncle to Travyon Martin’s parents who share their heartbreak with Katie, it’s one of the most important conversations we’ve had on the show. Join us along with Tavis Smiley and “What Would You Do?” host John Quiñones for an honest, revealing look at how race has divided our country. Plus, find out how to talk to your kids about race.

MSNBC interviews Oscar Grant family for episode Caught On Tape 11/17/2013

CBS News “Fruitvale Station”: Recreating a tragic loss of a life

(CBS News) A new movie based on a true story takes a look at a controversial shooting four years ago that still has echoes today. Erin Moriarty of “48 Hours” has the story behind the film:

Every day, 16,000 riders run through this Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, station in Oakland, Calif.

The sign says “Fruitvale.” But there’s another name that hangs heavy over the platform: Oscar Grant III.

Wanda Johnson, Grant’s mother, showed Moriarty a favorite photo of her “baby boy”: “His smile speaks to everybody. His smile speaks to me.”

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009, 22-year-old Grant and some friends were on the BART train returning from celebrating in San Francisco. There was a report of a fight, and when the train pulled into the Fruitvale Station, BART police started pulling Oscar and his friends off the train.

Other passengers pulled out their cell phones, and recorded video of what happened next: “In the video I see that there’s a officer out with a Taser walking back and forth, cussing, telling people to get off the eff-ing train,” Johnson recalled. “And then he grabs one of the boys and takes him off the train. He escorts a couple more off the train and he throws them down on the ground.”

One of them is an unarmed Oscar Grant. A BART officer is on top of Grant, trying to handcuff him.

“And as he has his knee in Oscar’s neck, Mehserle, he pulls out his gun and he shoots him,” Johnson said. “And everybody [goes], ‘Why would you shoot him?’ ”

Transit officer Johannes Mehserle shot Grant point-blank in the back.

Oscar Grant died in the hospital seven hours later.
Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 10.33.12 AM

Actor Michael B. Jordan saw the cell phone video online.

“I just remember being at home on the computer, watching the video,” Jordan said, “and just being, like, in awe — ‘Wow, it happened again.’ You know, African American kid, a person of color, being beaten, shot, harassed — this prejudice, the racism, all of that.”

Young Oakland filmmaker Ryan Coogler saw the video, too: “I remember the first time seeing it, just having an empty feeling in my stomach.

“And Oscar, being my age, looking like me, wearing the same type of clothes that I wear, his friends looking like my friends — it really triggered all kinds of emotions, from sadness, to anger, to a sense of helplessness.”

The streets of Oakland erupted. Officer Mehserle claimed that instead of pulling out his Taser, he mistakenly grabbed his gun, and fired the fatal shot. Charged with murder, Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and served less than a year in jail.

Coogler saw a story he wanted to tell in a movie — not so much about the shooting. He wanted to talk about Oscar Grant himself.

“He had made some mistakes in his life,” Coogler said. “But he also had some great love in his life, very great positives in his life as well. To be honest, he was a person, just like you, just like me.”

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 10.34.55 AM

But to make his film — simply called “Fruitvale Station” — Coogler had a lot of people to convince . . . starting with Oscar’s mother.

Johnson said she was “Very hesitant.”

Coogler had never actually made a feature film before. But his student films, at USC and elsewhere, had attracted admirers like actor Forrest Whitaker, who signed on as producer.

Whitaker convinced Oscar’s mother to say yes.

Then Coogler picked Michael B. Jordan to play Oscar, after seeing him on TV in “The Wire” and “Friday Night Lights.”

‘Fruitvale Station’ stops achingly close to reality- Family speaks

Director Ryan Coogler chose to film in the actual locations where Oscar Grant lived and died.

Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 12.29.00 AMSAN FRANCISCO — The Fruitvale Station stop on this city’s BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system, is an unexceptional place. Stark and sterile, it is familiar to commuters as well as any traveler who has taken public transportation from Oakland International Airport into town.

And yet what happened there in the first hours of an otherwise celebratory New Year’s Day 2009 — the shooting death of an unarmed reveler, Oscar Grant III, 22, by a BART officer who confused his Taser for a loaded gun — lit a fuse of anger, frustration and ultimately hope that has stretched all the way south to Hollywood.

Fruitvale Station, the just-released debut feature from 27-year-old director/writer Ryan Coogler, has already garnered critical buzz for the filmmaker and his stars, Michael B. Jordan as Grant and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer as his mother, Wanda Johnson. But for Coogler and the tight-knit group behind this movie, true rewards lie beyond awards.

“One of the most powerful things on the planet is human thought, and art can inspire that,” says Coogler, a Bay Area native who was home on Christmas break from film school at the University of Southern California when Grant was killed. “My mission was to generate empathy for someone people had never met.”

Coogler sets out to do that by focusing on the last day of Grant’s life, one that was filled with dualities. He had served time in San Quentin for drug dealing, but upon being released was intent on going straight. In one telling scene, Grant is shown both pleading with a hint of menace for a second chance at a grocery store job, and helping a stranger with a fish-fry dilemma by putting his grandmother on the phone with cooking advice.

REVIEW: Station is timely, tragic and riveting
STORY: No stopping Octavia Spencer in Fruitvale Station
MORE: The help behind Fruitvale Station
VIDEO: Spencer and Jordan talk Fruitvale

“He was a layered guy, different when he was around different people,” says Jordan, 26, a Newark native who spent time with Grant’s East Bay family and friends for the role. “He was caught in a juggling act, trying to make everybody happy and not keeping up.”

Jordan hopes that moviegoers leave the theater “simply valuing life a little more,” he says. “Maybe they’ll ask themselves, ‘How can I be a better person?’ Will it stop injustice? No. But maybe it can make things get better.”

Coogler’s road to Fruitvale started the night of the shooting, which was captured on smartphones by BART riders and yielded exceedingly tense and tragic footage that the director chose to open the movie.

Grant and his girlfriend, with whom he had a daughter, joined friends for a trip into San Francisco to watch fireworks when an altercation with neighborhood toughs led to the confrontation with officers.

Grant was face down with his hands behind his back when he was shot by officer Johannes Mehserle, who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and served 11 months before being released. After the fateful shot, the victim was heard to say, “You shot me! I got a 4-year-old daughter.” He died hours later.

“When I heard, I was shocked, angry and sad, and immediately knew I wanted to make a movie about this,” Coogler says softly. “We have seen this again with Trayvon (Martin, who was killed by George Zimmerman in Florida). Someone’s character instantly goes on trial in the media. They’re either a martyr and a saint, or everything they ever did was wrong. The truth is more complicated.”

Coogler’s USC short films got him an audience with Forest Whitaker and his production company, and before he knew it the modest project was greenlit and included an acting and producing assist from Spencer. “She just made everyone around her better, with her warmth, talent and smarts,” says Coogler.

Spencer was among those who made a strong impression on Grant’s mother, who had consistently rebuffed filmmakers, fearful that a project would only muddy her son’s memory.

But, Johnson says, after “praying on what I heard from Ryan and Forest, I said yes. They wanted to humanize Oscar. To show that he was important to somebody, to his mother and his girlfriend and his daughter. He was someone’s son, someone’s father.”

For Johnson, it was important to show her son struggling with life. “If you’re brown or black, it can be hard to overcome some of life’s obstacles,” she says. “By showing that Oscar was trying to do the right thing, maybe it’ll give other young men and women who are having a tough time hope that they can make it.”

Cephus Johnson
Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 12.27.54 AMOscar Grant’s uncle Cephus Johnson.(Photo: Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY)
Johnson’s brother, Cephus Johnson, who helps run the Oscar Grant Foundation — which provides crisis assistance to the families of those shot by law enforcement — says the simple aim ofFruitvale Stationis “to have you spend a day in Oscar’s shoes. It’s painful to have to re-live (that day through the film), but this is also bigger than Oscar. We hope the movie starts a conversation about profiling (minorities).”

The cast and crew shared the Johnsons’ grief during four nights of principal photography at the Fruitvale Station platform, which BART officials made available to the production.

“I don’t want to ever go up there again,” says Jordan, whose previous roles were in television series such as The Wire, Parenthood and Friday Night Lights.

“The bullet hole (in the platform) was still there when we were filming. My face was on the same floor his was. It was heavy,” he says. “I put my heart and soul into it. One day his daughter (now 9) will watch this.”

Coogler started those nights of filming with a huddle and a moment of silence. “It was emotional for everyone,” he says.

But his quest for authenticity went beyond securing the site of Grant’s shooting. The director also filmed in the hospital waiting room and operating theater where Grant was taken after the incident.

“There’s that moment where (Spencer) has to come in to ID Oscar, and while I was researching for that scene at the hospital, in walked a mother there to ID her son,” he says. “It was a creative choice to be in the real places. There was an energy there, and the actors and crew could feel it.”

Making Fruitvale Station could well stay with some production members long after the film leaves theaters. Jordan says he feels he’ll be “living with Oscar all my life.” And he calls Wanda Johnson his “other mom.”

Johnson laughs when she hears this. “You tell Michael to stay humble,” she says. “I have another son now.”

LA Times: Oscar Grant shooting death: Film delivers a vital message

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 6.45.16 PM

Oscar Grant III’s mom relives the past while supporting ‘Fruitvale Station,’ the new film about her son’s shooting death.

Director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan at the BART Fruitvale station. Both believe they could have easily been in Grant’s shoes.

By Amy Kaufman
Reporting from Oakland

June 28, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 2.36.49 PM

After putting in a full day at UPS, Wanda Johnson rushed to change from her work clothes into a sapphire blue gown.

When she arrived at the Grand Lake Theater, she looked red-carpet ready — her dress flowing, not a hair out of place — but her heart was pounding. So she sat down in the lobby, placed her hands delicately on her lap and surveyed the chaos: cameras flashing, popcorn spilling, movie fans standing tiptoe trying to glimpse Hollywood stars on hand for the Northern California premiere of “Fruitvale Station.”

It was a film about her son, Oscar Grant III. Soon, she was going to watch him die on screen — for the third time.
Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 2.31.13 PM

Four and a half years ago, Grant, 22, was shot by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer on the Fruitvale station platform, only five miles from the theater.

The African American father was returning with friends from New Year’s Eve celebrations in San Francisco when a fight broke out on his train. At the Fruitvale stop, authorities pulled the unarmed Grant aside, forcibly restrained him and pinned him to the ground as onlookers captured the scene with cellphones.

The 2009 footage — ending with a single gunshot — quickly went viral, inciting protests and riots in Oakland.

“I’m the one who told him to take BART, thinking he would be safe,” said Johnson, tears threatening to ruin the makeup she had put on for the premiere. “I didn’t want them to be out there drinking and driving…. And he said, ‘OK, Mama, I’ll take BART for you.’”

Reliving the past while lending her support to “Fruitvale Station” over the last few months has stirred the guilt she feels from Grant’s death and led to surreal moments of glamour amid her sadness.

In January, she flew to Park City, Utah, for the movie’s unveiling at the Sundance Film Festival and saw her son played by Michael B. Jordan and herself portrayed by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer. Critics praised the performances, and the picture took home Sundance’s top two prizes.

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 2.31.00 PM

Wanda Johnson, left, mother of Oscar Grant, and actress Octavia Spencer, at “Fruitvale Station” premiere. Spencer plays the role of Wanda Johnson in the film.

Last week, at a screening during the Los Angeles Film Festival, Johnson was bombarded by celebrities eager to greet her — Sidney Poitier, Russell Simmons, Edward James Olmos.

But it was the young actor who played her son who gave her the most comfort amid the fanfare. She pulled Jordan close to her chest, bringing him in for a motherly minute-long embrace.

“I told him he’s my other son now,” she said. “I told him, ‘You can call me any time.’”

Johnson didn’t go looking for her Hollywood turn.

She was an outspoken figure during the 2010 trial when transit officer Johannes Mehserle, eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter, testified he’d mistakenly shot Grant after pulling out his handgun instead of his electronic stun gun. Throughout the trial, Johnson fielded numerous requests from documentarians looking to tell Grant’s story. She declined them all.

Something shifted, however, when Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale’s” first-time writer-director, approached her.

“He just kind of comforted me with the words he was saying,” Johnson said. “When [I] met Ryan, I kind of felt, like, at peace with him.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 2.30.37 PM

Coogler was a product of the Bay Area. Growing up in Hayward, the now-27-year-old was raised to be fearful of the police. At the dinner table, his parents taught him and his two brothers how to act if they were ever stopped by the cops.

“We’d rehearse,” recalled Coogler’s mother, Joselyn. “Like, ‘Keep your hands on the steering wheel.’”

He was a USC film student but in the Bay Area with his family on winter break when Grant was shot. As footage of the incident trickled out, Coogler couldn’t shake one thought: “That could have been me.”

Wanda Johnson, left, and daughter Trinice Smith at the “Fruitvale Station” screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Back at USC, Grant’s story stuck with him. So when an executive from actor Forest Whitaker’s production company approached Coogler about a possible collaboration, he knew the movie he wanted to make.

And he knew he needed Johnson involved. To help the cast prepare, she agreed to talk to the actors about her son.

“It was very, very hard,” said Johnson, whose perfectly straight bangs framed her kind, unassuming face. “I was really scared at first, like, ‘How is the movie going to turn out?’ They could do it however they wanted.”

Spencer, who had never played a character based on a real person, was anxious about the process too. Once they met, however, the two shared laughter and tears.

“Any insecurities or fears that I had — she allayed them,” Spencer said, dabbing her forehead after walking the red carpet at the Grand Lake.

“We felt like family. When I saw her, I thought, ‘We could be sisters.’ She is a very graceful, quiet but poised woman. And what a gracious woman — to allow a whole film crew into her life after losing her son.”

Jordan was also sensitive about playing Grant, imagining what it would feel like, he said, “if some kid was coming at me wearing the same clothes and had the same facial hair as my dead son.”

Like Coogler, Jordan thinks about how easily he could have been in Grant’s shoes.

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 2.31.40 PM

“I got pulled over 20, maybe 30 times,” said Jordan, who used to drive a BMW, a car that, he added, drew unwanted police attention, “with the automatic assumption being that I’m a drug dealer or it’s stolen.”

After spending time with Johnson, the 26-year-old became more comfortable with his role in the movie and in her life.

Actor Michael B. Jordan, who played Oscar Grant III, stuck close to Wanda Johnson during much of this red carpet fanfare.

“This film is really helping her along in the grieving process of getting past this,” Jordan said. “Not ever forgetting about it, but moving on from it a little bit.”

The only obvious reminder of Grant near the incident is a crosswalk away from the Fruitvale station, where a street artist painted a mural of Grant’s face emblazoned on a BART ticket.

Hours before “Fruitvale’s” hometown premiere, Coogler wandered around the station’s concourse level with Jordan. Luna Salaver, a BART communications officer, was on site to make sure the pair didn’t travel upstairs to the platform with a reporter. She said she was fearful of any commotion that the actor and filmmaker might cause among the passengers.

“I don’t like going up there anyway,” Coogler said. “There’s energy at that spot — people know it and what happened there. And oftentimes, people won’t stand at that end of the platform.”

When “Fruitvale” was filmed at the station last year, Jordan thought he found a bullet hole left by the ammunition that traveled through Grant’s body and into a floor tile.

… I felt like I was going to lose my life every time I shot that.”

— By Michael B. Jordan

“I remember putting my chest to the hole and being scared while I was shooting that scene,” the actor recalled. “Having the cops there, the passengers on the train, knowing what happened — I felt like I was going to lose my life every time I shot that.”

News of the bullet hole eventually reached BART officials.

“When we learned that this reminder of the worst thing in BART’s history was still there, we immediately sent someone in to fix it,” Salaver said.

On the day of Coogler and Jordan’s visit, a pink, clay-like substance had recently been applied to cover the hole. Pieces of the chalky filler lay in crumbles around the spot. Most people will probably mistake it for a wad of smooshed chewing gum.

Hours later at the Grand Lake Theater, as Johnson posed for a rare photo with the film’s cast, everyone seemed to have a tie to Oscar Grant.

There was Nigel Bryson, 23, who had been riding the train with Grant the night he was killed. A large pendant painted with Grant’s face hung from his neck. Tony Coleman, who said he once coached Grant in basketball, was spreading the word about an upcoming rally tied to the film. A dozen BART employees showed up. Even Mayor Jean Quan shared her memories of Grant. She used to go to Farmer Joe’s, the supermarket where he worked, and remembers seeing him behind the butcher counter.

“What his mom said to him — that’s the kind of thing I’d say to my kid. ‘Take BART,’” she said.

Nigel Bryson, 23, who had been riding the train with Oscar Grant the night he was killed in 2009, wears a large pendant painted with Grant’s face on it to the Oakland premiere of “Fruitvale Station.” (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times) More photos

Noticeably absent was his girlfriend and mother of his daughter, Sophina Mesa, whose relatives said she isn’t ready to watch the film.

“Seeing it on the film is just too much,” said Lita Gomez, Mesa’s sister. “It’s too realistic.”

All the fanfare over the movie, which opens July 26 with high awards-season hopes for the Weinstein Co., reminded Johnson of her son’s love for attention.

“He always liked to be the light of the crowd,” she said. “So in these situations, I always think, ‘Oscar, you’re getting what you wanted. You’re not here, but you’re still getting celebrated.’”

When at last it was time for the screening to begin, Johnson steeled herself, hiding her face during certain scenes, closing her eyes during others. She especially hates the part at the hospital, after Grant has been shot.

“We drove so, so quickly that night,” she said. “I think we probably went about 90 to 100 miles an hour on the freeway just trying to get to the hospital so I could be with my son.”

Why relive it?

“I have to. You know why? Because I wouldn’t want you or anybody else to go through it,” she said. “If I don’t do it, then I’m always going to have that on my heart.”

‘Fruitvale Station’ brings Oscar Grant’s dramatic story to big screen- Uncle Bobby shares his views

Fruitvale Station, the standout flick from Sundance Film Festival this year, reenacts the final day of Oscar Grant’s life, detailing an inciting incident that furthered ongoing civil rights battles still prevalent in the U.S. today.

Grant was a 22-year-old, unarmed black man fatally shot by a white police officer in an Oakland metro station on New Year’s Day 2009. While supporters feel he was not vindicated in court, his tale has been given new light in this upcoming movie, which was bought by the Weinstein Company for a reported $2.5 million, and will hit theaters this summer.

“It was surreal, exciting, encouraging, and fearful,” Cephus ‘Uncle Bobby’ Johnson, Grant’s uncle, tells theGrio about the film. “This movie meant to me that the humanity of Oscar, the loving spirit of Oscar, the family love for Oscar can now be seen by the world, directly addressing the demonization that was being portrayed by the defense and local mass media of Oscar. It gives the audience a deeper perception to who Oscar was, and his actions on that platform that night before his murder at the Fruitvale Bart Station.”

Onto the world stage

Premiering at Sundance in January, Fruitvale Station was awarded both the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, two of the most coveted honors at the annual event. This month, it will screen at Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard, and it is set for nationwide theatrical release in July.

Already, the film has garnered positive attention from critics, who are calling it “powerful,” “incredibly moving and confident,” and “no-frills.”

On Tuesday, the studio released the first poster for the film, an illustrated image of Grant’s back as he holds hands with his daughter, and overlooks the BART station.

“Ultimately, I think it comes down to the story and the way in which it’s told,” Trevor Groth, Director of Programming for Sundance Institute observes. “Audiences at our Festival connected to and were compelled by the real-life, horrifying story of Oscar Grant and his murder at the Fruitvale subway stop. What’s extraordinary about the film is that the writer/director Ryan Coogler makes the film about the person rather than the tragedy, which makes the ending all the more heartbreaking.”

According to Groth, the awards Fruitvale Station received are typically granted to films that are original and “dynamic,” something not always true of even big budget pictures.

He adds, “The jury members are so well versed in independent film, and they’re seeing so many high-quality films at our Festival that a film must be truly innovative and emotionally powerful to rise up and earn the Grand Jury prize. This is absolutely apparent with Fruitvale Station, which achieved the rare feat of also winning our Audience Award.”

Drama with a touch of vérité

With newfound energy brought to Grant’s cause, Johnson feels Fruitvale Station offers a chance for audiences to learn about his nephew’s “humanity,” which he says was lost amidst court battles and media frenzy. Johnson assisted Coogler in the filmmaker’s research for the movie.

“These young black men are humans,” Johnson says. “They too have a right to life, and not all police shootings are a justifiable homicide. These young men have families that love them, and they all are not all monsters as portrayed by police defense tactics…A conversation is needed around racism.”

In many ways, Grant’s story echoes that of others like him, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and forced to pay the consequences without due process of the law.

Grant’s life ended in the early morning hours of January 1, 2009, when police officers arrived to a crowded BART Station near San Francisco to halt a fight that had broke out. Officers restrained Grant along with others on the train without searching for weapons.

In videos taken by bystanders, Grant can be seen sitting against a wall, and later holding his hands in the air as he speaks to the officer. After handcuffing Grant’s friend, an officer struck Grant, claiming he was resisting arrest, and forced him to the ground.

As Grant lies with his chest on the ground, “struggling” according to some reports, an officer pulls out a gun and shoots him in the back. He died seven hours later.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, none of the seven officers on the scene radioed to BART supervisors that a police shooting had taken place.

“I was devastated at what I was hearing about Oscar being shot,” Johnson recalls. “I did not know initially that it was the police that shot him. Once that was learned and seeing it on YouTube, it crushed me. I knew that there was much to discuss about how black people were treated by police, but to see it happen to a loved one in the way that he was murdered was like watching him being lynched.”

After a criminal trial, a court found the police officer that shot Grant guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and not guilty of both second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges. He was sentenced to two years in prison after the judge removed a gun enhancement that would have added 3-10 years, and his length was additionally reduced with double credit for time previously served.

Further rioting ensued.

Grant’s family brought a civil rights lawsuit to court, which was closed when BART settled with the mother of Grant’s son for $1.5 million.

Johnson believes much needs to be done in order to make progress in the fight against police brutality and racial profiling, as Grant’s case did “nothing” to that degree.

“The civil rights legislation failed in the criminal preceding,” he remarks. “What justice means to me is exactly what it supposed to mean, that is, fair and reasonable treatment applied equally. Oscar did not receive justice because the officer was not held accountable for what he did.”

A narrative written in the stars?

Should history repeats itself, the fate of Fruitvale Station looks promising. Last year’s Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance, Beasts of the Southern Wild, went on to be nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture.

Other Sundance favorites have similarly achieved top honors while also breaking new talent, and accruing sizable box office earnings. The 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine received a handful of Oscar nominations, as did 2009’s Precious. The 2004 comedy Napoleon Dynamite grossed over $44 million in the domestic box office.

“Many of the films we show that achieve the most success outside of the Festival are those that are both compelling in terms of the specific story they tell as well as how they address a larger issue,” Groth notes. “One thing I love about Fruitvale Station is how it offers a barometer reading on the state of humanity in American society today. We can all learn something from this film.”

Plus, the movie’s got star power behind it. Oscar-winners Forest Whitaker and Octavia Spencer produced it, and Spencer also plays a role in the movie. Other cast members include Michael B. Jordan and Chad Michael Murray.

“Michael B. Jordan unleashes a phenomenal performance that I believe will launch him into the highest stratosphere of acting talent,” says Groth.

Grant’s final Bow

For Grant’s family, the release of Fruitvale Station will be a moment for their lost child to have a voice.

Johnson hopes Grant’s legacy will now be characterized by “his humanity, his love for his mother, fiancée, daughter, and community, [and] his branding on police terrorism by the saying, ‘We are all Oscar Grant.’”

Michael B. Jordan Gets Painted In Fruitvale Station Poster

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 12.07.35 PMOne 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.

ANNOUNCING 2013 LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL LINE-UP

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 4.44.06 PMFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Greg Longstreet, Film Independent
Tel: 310.432.1287 or glongstreet@filmindependent.org

Gina Lang, Ginsberg/Libby
Tel: 323.645.6800 or gina.lang@ginsberglibby.com
FILM INDEPENDENT ANNOUNCES 2013 LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL LINE-UP
ALONG WITH CLOSING NIGHT FILM AND GALAS
- Fox Searchlight Pictures’ The Way, Way Back Written and Directed by
Oscar® Winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash to Close the Festival -
- Galas Include the North American Premiere of Nicholas Winding Refn’s
Only God Forgives and Ryan Coogler’s Award Winning Fruitvale Station -
- 22 Films Chosen for Narrative & Documentary Competition -

LA Film Festival Lineup

LOS ANGELES (May 1, 2013) – Today the Los Angeles Film Festival, presented by Film Independent, in conjunction with Presenting Media Sponsor the Los Angeles Times and Host Partner L.A. LIVE, announced its official US and international selections. Fox Searchlight Pictures’ The Way, Way Back, written and directed by Oscar® winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, will serve as the Closing Night film for the 2013 Festival. The film stars Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Annasophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph and Liam James. Closing Night is sponsored by DIRECTV’s premium pay-per-view movie service, DIRECTV Cinema. Also announced are the Festival’s Gala screenings, which include Ryan Coogler’s award winning Fruitvale Station from The Weinstein Company and the North American premiere of Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives from RADiUS-TWC. Now in its nineteenth year, the Festival showcases the best in new American and international cinema and is produced by Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that also produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and Film Independent at LACMA film series.

The 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, which returns to downtown Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE for a fourth year and runs from Thursday, June 13 to Sunday, June 23, will screen a diverse slate of nearly 200 feature films, shorts and music videos, representing more than 40 countries, along with signature programs such as the Filmmaker Retreat, Music in Film Nights at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE, Poolside Chats, Master Classes and more. Previously announced, filmmaker David O. Russell will serve as Guest Director and will receive the Spirit of Independence Award. Also confirmed were two Master Classes with Artists in Residence Maya Rudolph and Gustavo Santaolalla, “An Evening With Costa-Gavras,” including the US premiere of his new film Capital, and an “In Conversation” with playwright/filmmaker David Mamet and actor/stage magician/author Ricky Jay. Opening the Festival will be the North American premiere of Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited!.

“Our programmers culled through thousands of submissions and emerged with unique cinematic jewels from both seasoned masters and first time directors that will take you around the world,” said Stephanie Allain, Festival Director. “Whether witnessing the border up close in Rodrigo Reyes’ Purgatorio, hanging courtside with Venus Williams in Ava DuVernay’s Venus Vs., howling with Almodovar’s I’m So Excited!, or feeling the love in Rash and Faxon’s The Way, Way Back, you are in for an eye-opening experience. Bring your shades.”

“We’ve put together a program that will appeal to every kind of movie lover, from exciting new American indies to the best international art house fare and eye-opening documentaries to family films, thrillers and horror flicks,” said David Ansen, Artistic Director of the Festival. “We have 20 World Premieres and have discovered some amazing new filmmaking voices to introduce alongside such masters as Pedro Almodovar, Marco Bellocchio, Costa-Gavras and Johnnie To. I’m excited to turn Los Angeles on to these incredible movies.”

The Festival concludes with Fox Searchlight’s The Way, Way Back, written and directed by Oscar® winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, and starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet and Liam James. The film is the funny and poignant coming-of-age story of 14-year-old Duncan’s (Liam James) summer vacation with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin). Having a rough time fitting in, the introverted Duncan finds an unexpected friend in gregarious Owen (Sam Rockwell), manager of the Water Wizz water park. Through his funny, clandestine friendship with Owen, Duncan slowly opens up to and begins to finally find his place in the world – all during a summer he will never forget. Fox Searchlight Pictures will release the film on July 5.

The Gala screenings at the 2013 Festival include the North American premiere of RADiUS-TWC’s Only God Forgives, which reunites filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn with his Drive star Ryan Gosling for an audacious piece of cinematic bravura about an American expat in Bangkok’s brutal underworld forced to deal with his mother’s obsession for vengeance after his brother’s murder. The film also stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Vithaya Pansringarm. Also, The Weinstein Company’s Fruitvale Station from first-time feature filmmaker Ryan Coogler, who brings cinematic grace and maturity to the tragic true story of Oscar Grant, a young African-American man, on the fateful day he was killed by Oakland’s BART transit police. It stars Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray and Octavia Spencer.

Another Festival highlight from this year’s line-up are the free Community Screenings including a 20th Anniversary screening of Dazed and Confused from director Richard Linklater and a Dance-A-Long screening of John Waters’ Hairspray in honor of its 25th Anniversary.

More Special Screenings and Programs will be announced in the coming weeks.

This year, the Festival received 5,428 submissions from filmmakers around the world, compared to 5,283 last year. The final selections represent 35 World, North American and US premieres, which includes premiere status for films previously announced. 22 of the premieres are in the Narrative and Documentary Competition sections.

Passes are currently on sale to Film Independent members and the general public. In addition to screenings and events, Festival passes provide access to a series of networking receptions and entry to the Filmmaker Lounge, where Festival pass holders can interact with Festival filmmakers and professionals in the film community. General admission tickets to individual films go on sale beginning May 21. Contact the Ticket Office for passes, tickets and event information by calling 866.FILM.FEST (866.345.6337) or visit LAFilmFest.com.

For the eighth year, the Los Angeles Times will serve as the Festival’s Presenting Media Sponsor and will produce the Official Film Guide, the comprehensive source for all movie info, screenings, locations and related special events. The Film Guide will top the paper on Sunday, June 9 in Los Angeles and Orange County, and will be made available throughout downtown Los Angeles during the ten-day event.

For media and publicist credentials please visit the Press & Media section of lafilmfest.com and fill out the application. Deadline is May 17.

Narrative Competition (12): The Narrative Competition is comprised of films made by talented emerging filmmakers that compete for the Filmmaker Award. The winner is determined by a panel of jurors, and films in this section are also eligible for the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature or Best International Feature. The Narrative Competition and Grand Jury Prize are sponsored by DIRECTV Cinema.

• All Together Now, Alexander Mirecki – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Forev, Molly Green, James Leffler – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Forty Years From Yesterday, Robert Machoian, Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Four Dogs, Joe Burke – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Goodbye World, Denis Henry Hennelly – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• The House That Jack Built, Henry Barrial – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• I.D., Kamal K M – India – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
• Mother, I Love You, Janis Nords – Latvia – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
• My Sister’s Quinceañera, Aaron Douglas Johnston – USA – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
• Pollywogs, Karl Jacob, Todd Arthur Cottam – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Winter in the Blood, Andrew Smith, Alex Smith – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Workers, Jose Luis Valle – Mexico/Germany – US PREMIERE

Documentary Competition (10): The Documentary Competition is comprised of films made by talented emerging filmmakers that compete for the Documentary Award. The winner is determined by a panel of jurors, and films in this section are also eligible for the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature or Best International Feature. The Documentary Competition and Grand Jury Prize are sponsored by DIRECTV Cinema.

• All of Me, Alexandra Lescaze – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, Grace Lee – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Code Black, Ryan McGarry – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• The Island of Saint Matthews, Kevin Jerome Everson – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Llyn Foulkes: One Man Band, Christopher Quilty, Tamar Halpern – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• My Stolen Revolution, Nahid Persson Sarvestani – Sweden – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
• The New Black, Yoruba Richen – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Rain, Olivia Rochette, Gerard-Jan Claes – Belgium – US PREMIERE
• Tapia, Eddie Alcazar – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Purgatorio, Rodrigo Reyes – Mexico/USA – US PREMIERE

International Showcase (15): The International Showcase highlights innovative independent narrative and documentary features from outside of the United States. Films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature, Best Narrative Feature, or Best Documentary Feature.

• The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn – Denmark/Norway/UK (Drafthouse Films)
• Black Out, Eva Webber – UK – NORTH AMERCAN PREMIERE
• Boxing Day, Bernard Rose – UK
• Dormant Beauty, Marco Bellocchio – Italy
• Drug War, Johnnie To – China
• Ernest & Celestine, Stéphanie Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner – France (Gkids)
• The Expedition to the End of the World, Daniel Dancik – Denmark
• The Fifth Season, Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth – Belgium/Netherlands/France
• House with a Turret, Eva Neymann – Ukraine
• The Moo Man, Andy Heathcote, Heike Bachelier – UK
• Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, Hong Sang-soo – Korea – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
• The Patience Stone, Atiq Rahimi – Afghanistan/France/Germany/UK (Sony Pictures Classics)
• Wadjda, Haifaa Al Mansour – Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates/Germany (Sony Pictures Classics)
• When I Saw You, Annemarie Jacir – Palestine/Jordan/Greece/United Arab Emirates/USA
• The Women and the Passenger, Valentina Mac-Pherson, Patricia Correra – Chile – US PREMIERE

Summer Showcase (17): The Summer Showcase section offers an advanced look at this summer’s most talked about independent film releases and will include highlights from the festival circuit and premieres. Films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature, Best Narrative Feature, or Best Documentary Feature.

• Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, David Lowery – USA (IFC Films)
• Brothers Hypnotic, Reuben Atlas – Netherlands/USA
• Casting By, Tom Donahue – USA (HBO Films)
• Concussion, Stacie Passon – USA (RADiUS-TWC)
• The Crash Reel, Lucy Walker – USA (HBO Films)
• Crystal Fairy, Sebastián Silva – Chile (IFC Films)
• Europa Report, Sebastián Cordero – USA (Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing) – US PREMIERE
• First Cousin Once Removed, Alan Berliner – USA (HBO Films)
• Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, Sophie Huber – Switzerland
• In a World…, Lake Bell – USA (Roadside Attractions)
• Our Nixon, Penny Lane – USA
• Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, Jeff Broadway – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Short Term 12, Destin Daniel Cretton – USA
• The Spectacular Now, James Ponsoldt – USA
• Venus Vs., Ava DuVernay – USA (ESPN) – WORLD PREMIERE

Community Screenings (5): These films will be presented free to the public. New films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature or Best Documentary Feature.

• Brasslands, Adam Pogoff, Jay Sterrenberg, Bryan Chang – USA – FIGat7th Screening
• Dazed and Confused (1993), Richard Linklater – USA – 20th Anniversary Screening – FIGat7th Screening
• Hairspray (1988), John Waters – USA – Grand Park Dance-A-Long – 25th Anniversary Screening
• Inequality for All, Jacob Kornbluth – USA – Grand Performances Screening
• Life of a King, Jake Goldberger – USA– Project Involve Screening – WORLD PREMIERE

The Beyond (3): The Beyond offers films that dare to be different. Films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature or Best Narrative Feature.

• Delivery, Brian Netto – USA – WORLD PREMIERE
• Lesson of the Evil, Takashi Miike – Japan – US PREMIERE
• You’re Next, Adam Wingard – USA (Lionsgate)

Retro (3):

• Amarcord (1973), Federico Fellini – Italy – 40th Anniversary Screening
• Between Two Worlds (2009), Vimukthi Jayasundara – Sri Lanka/France – LAFCA’s The Film That Got Away
• Two Men in Manhattan (1958), Jean Pierre-Melville – France (Cohen Media Group) – 55th Anniversary Screening

Short Films (44): Shorts are shown before features and as part of four short film programs. With their diverse and complex content, these films shine brilliantly. Most short films, domestic and international, will compete for prizes in Narrative, Documentary and Animation/Experimental categories. The winner is determined by a panel of jurors. An Audience Award for Best Short Film is also presented.

• Shorts Program 1-4

Future Filmmakers Showcase: High School Shorts (29): These two programs of shorts are made by high school students from around the world, featuring work by the next generation of filmmakers.

• Programs 1-2

Music Videos (33): The Music Video Showcase consists of two programs. Eclectic Mix 1 and 2 are a visual mix tape of this year’s best independent music videos with a few innovative major label artists thrown in for good measure. Music videos will compete for an Audience Award.

• Eclectic Mix

PLEASE REFERENCE THE ADDENDUM FOR ALL FILM TITLES, SYNOPSES, CAST, AND CREDITS FOR ALL FEATURE FILMS:
2013 LINE-UP ADDENDUM

ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL
Now in its nineteenth year, The Los Angeles Film Festival is presented by Film Independent, in conjunction with Presenting Media Sponsor the Los Angeles Times, Premier and Closing Night Sponsor DIRECTV Cinema, Principal and Family Day sponsor Hasbro Studios and Platinum sponsors Stella Artois, Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14, EFILM, HBO, Volkswagen of America, Canon U.S.A., Inc., and Dolby Laboratories, Inc. Special support is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Official Screening Venue is Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14. Stella Artois is the official beer. The Los Angeles Athletic Club is the Official Host Hotel. WireImage is the Official Photography Agency and PR Newswire is the Official Breaking News Service of Film Independent.

More information can be found at LAFilmFest.com.

ABOUT LOS ANGELES TIMES
The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 1.5 million and 2.6 million on Sunday, more than 23 million unique latimes.com visitors monthly and a combined print and online local weekly audience of 4.1 million. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Times has been covering Southern California for more than 131 years.

The Los Angeles Times Media Group (LATMG) businesses and affiliates also include The Envelope, Times Community News, and Hoy Los Angeles which, combined with the flagship Los Angeles Times, reach approximately 5.2 million or 39% of all adults in the Southern California marketplace. LATMG also owns California Community News, LLC, operates Tribune Direct LA, and is part of Tribune Company, one of the country’s leading media companies with businesses in publishing, the Internet and broadcasting. Additional information is available at http://latimes.com/aboutus

ABOUT L.A. LIVE
L.A. LIVE is a 4 million square foot / $2.5 billion downtown Los Angeles sports & entertainment district adjacent to STAPLES Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center featuring Club Nokia, a 2,300 capacity live music venue, Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, a 7,100-seat live theatre, a 54-story, 1001-room convention “headquarters” destination (featuring The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles and JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE hotels and 224 luxury condominiums – The Ritz Carlton Residences at L.A. LIVE – all in a single tower), The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE, the 14-screen Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14 theatre, “broadcast” facilities for ESPN along with entertainment, residential, restaurant and office space. Visit L.A. LIVE today at www.lalive.com

Oscar Grant Fruitvale Station In 2013 Cannes Film Festitval

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 2.52.26 PM To Join event follow link: Oscar Grant Fruitvale Station In 2013 Cannes Film Festival
Help us build our audience for the Movie Fruitvale Station by sharing with all your friends as it hits the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France May 15th-26th 2013:

We need at least 1000+ people stating that they are going to see the movie. This will increase our ability to bring to Oakland Grand Lake Theater, Paramount, or even the Fox Theater for a premiere showing. Please invite your entire friend list to help build and promote by going to  Facebook event page here:

Oscar Grant movie Fruitvale name has been changed to Fruitvale Station. It has been selected to play in the Cannes Film Festival located in Cannes, France from 15 to 26 May 2013. This is an international film festival. Oscar story is now going international for the world to view.

Please say you are going if you want to see this movie. We need to promote our request here to show our demand for a premiere here in Oakland California. Share this with all your friends for Oscar.

Justice For Oscar Grant– “We are all still Oscar Grant” Long live the Spirit of the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement”

 

Trailer Addict

 

 

 

 

Hollywood.com News on Cannes Film Festival-lineup announced

 

 

The 66th annual Cannes Film Festival is scheduled to take placed in Cannes, France from 15 to 26 May 2013.[1] Steven Spielberg has been announced as the head of the jury for the main competition.[2] New Zealand film director Jane Campion has been announced as the head of the jury for the Cinéfondation and Short Film sections.[3] French actress Audrey Tautou has been announced as the host of the opening and closing ceremonies.

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