By Sophie Jacob
Sitting in the Angelika Theatre in downtown New York City on Friday night, waiting for Fruitvale Station to start, I did not know what I was in for.
The movie is about the death of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day, 2009 in Oakland, California. Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old African-American man, was with friends and his girlfriend on the way home to his daughter from New Year’s festivities when he was shot by a police officer. Having closely followed the Trayvon Martin trial, I felt prepared for the movie. I thought I knew enough about one law-enforcement-on-young-black-male crime to appreciate another.
I was wrong.
The film, by 27-year-old Ryan Coogler, begins with the shaky footage of the actual shooting. Unlike Trayvon Martin’s killing, Grant’s had a subway-station full of witnesses. Camera phone videos surfaced of the murder. The grainy video opened the film. After leaving me shocked and horrified, Oscar Grant, played by Michael B. Jordan, and his girlfriend, Sophina, appear on screen.
As I was taken on a tour of the last day in the life of Grant, I became so emotionally invested in all the characters. I felt such a connection to them that when the shooting occurred later in the movie, I was praying along with his family on screen for him to survive. At the end, when it was revealed the BART officer served just 11 months for his heinous crime, it was too much to handle.