Based on a true story, this trailer of director Ryan Coogler’s debut feature film Fruitvale Station (2013) characterizes and showcases the experiences of protagonist Oscar Grant, a young African American man living in a working class area of Oakland, CA. The quick snippets of the trailer paint Oscar in a sympathetic manner: he is a devoted father, boyfriend, and son who is struggling to find work to keep himself off the streets. However, a scuffle on the subway ensues when a former prison inmate of Oscar’s recognizes him. The violence quickly escalates as police officers throw Oscar onto the platform at Fruitvale Station. Although the trailer does not reveal what happens to Oscar, the 2008 incident and subsequent peaceful and violent protests point to another instance of an unarmed black man’s death by police shooting.
The film paints a portrait of a working class African American man. Why do you think it’s important that the viewer has these details before being immersed in the details of his death?
Since the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, #BlackLivesMatter has become a prominent social and political civil rights movement organizing against violence towards Black people and working to validate Black life. How does the story of Oscar Grant relate to the issues raised and advocated for by #BlackLivesMatter?
There have been many documented and publicized deaths of unarmed black men in the media – particularly pertaining to working class, young black men and white police or law enforcement officers. What does this trailer hint at or say about the systemic policing of black bodies? Is there a positive or negative connotation?
Every piece of media is inherently biased. What are some examples of bias you see in this trailer, and what social commentary do you think the film is trying to make?
Analyze the portrayal of law enforcement in the trailer. How does it contrast with how viewers see (or are supposed to see) Oscar?