Oscar Grant Movie "Fruitvale" Wins Sundance Award

Ryan Coogler is a 26-year-old filmmaker from the Bay Area and a graduate of the MFA program at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts

Monday, Jan 28, 2013  |  Updated 7:12 AM PDT
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"Fruitvale," a dramatic film about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant who shot to death in Oakland by a BART police officer on New Year's Day 2009 was awarded a top prize for a dramatic film at the Sundance Film Festival Saturday. Monte Francis reports.

A dramatic film about the last day in the life of a man shot to death in Oakland by a BART police officer on New Year's Day 2009 was awarded a top prize for a dramatic film at the Sundance Film Festival Saturday.

Fruitvale, written and directed by Bay Area filmmaker Ryan Coogler, was awarded the U.S. Jury Grand Prize for a dramatic film.

Coogler accepted the award Saturday night during a ceremony at Basin Recreation Field House on in Park City, Utah. 

The film follows Oscar Grant in the hours leading up to his death at the Fruitvale BART station.

Grant is played by actor Michael B. Jordan, who is known for roles in The Wire, Friday Night Lights and Parenthood.

Here's how Sundance summarized the 90 minute film: 

Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who loved his friends, was generous to strangers, and had a hard time telling the truth to the mother of his beautiful daughter. He was scared and courageous and charming and raw, and as human as the community he was part of. That community paid attention to him, shouted on his behalf, and filmed him with their cell phones when BART officers, who were strong, intimidated, and acting in the way they thought they were supposed to behave around people like Oscar, shot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day in 2009.

Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward resident, was fatally shot in the back in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. Grant was unarmed at the time he was shot, and his death caused widespread outrage and protests in Oakland.

Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a 2010 trial that was moved to Los Angeles County Superior Court because of intense publicity in the Bay Area. He was sentenced to two years in prison and released in 2011 due to credits for time served.

Mehserle testified that he intended to use a taser stun gun but accidentally drew his revolver instead. Grant's family and several other men who were detained with him in the BART station at the time of the shooting have lawsuits pending against Mehserle and others connected with the incident.

Grant's uncle, Cephus Johnson, told NBC Bay Area on Sunday, that the family was pleased with the film.

"We knew this movie would help us share with the world who Oscar was, you know, no one is perfect and we should all be entitled to some redemptive acceptance in our lives," he said.

NBC Bay Area's Monte Francis contributed to this report.

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